Taken from "Birds of the Austin Region"

1925, pp 387 pages,

George Finlay Simmons,

published by the University of Texas.

Passenger data on pages 85-86.


Ectopistes canadensis (Linnaeus)

Extirpated in the Austin Region. Formerly abundant migrant, several weeks in both spring and fall, though commonest in September and October. Forty years ago the species was not uncommon. A Kentucky flock seen by Alexander Wilson in 1808 was estimated by him to contain well over two and a quarter billion birds; the race is now probably extinct; no unquestionable record of its actual capture in the United States since 1898, when specimen~ were taken in New York antz Michigan; the sole surviving Passenger Pigeon, a captive, died on September 1, 1914. Recorded: DO.
Geographical Distribution.-Formerly southeastern Canada, from Hudson Bay southward, and the northeastern part of the United States, west to the Great Plains, southward to New York, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Kansas. Wintered principally in southeastern United States, from North Carolina and Arkansas south to Florida, Louisiana, and the post-oak country of central Texas. Migrant across eastern Texas, west to Austin.

Habitat.-Deciduous woodlands, particularly those of post oak; shin oak woodlands; marginal timber along streams.
Local Haunts.-Whole of the Region: post oak woodlands near the city; post oak woods in extreme eastern part of Region; trees along banks of Barton Creek near its mouth, and trees along south bank of the Colorado River just above Barton Creek; shin oak woods on hilltops. More common in extreme eastern part of Region, on edge of the post-oak-blackjack area, where numbers wintered; fewer west to Austin,where oaks were not so common.
General Habits.-In its more northern breeding grounds the birds bred in colonies nearly solidly covering patches of woods, 3 to 4 miles wide and 8 to 28 miles long, where it was persecuted, netted, captured, and destroyed, where it was beaten and clubbed to death by the thousands in the dead of night and its nest, eggs, and young destroyed wantonly. During migrations, especially in the earlier days, they were myriad; flocks of millions and millions passed overhead, flying between winter and summer homes, their immense numbers frequently darkening the sun.
Feeding Habits.-Fed largely on acorns in oak woodlands.

Fiight.-Said to be noiseless. instead of whistling as that of the Western Mourning Dove.

History.-Prior to forty years ago they were common in the Region, particularly in the extreme eastern part of Travis County where greater crops of acorns could be found. Then in the fall of 1878 a large migration took place over the city, moving from the southeast toward the northwest, in the general direction of the western post- oak timbers. String after string of many thousands of birds passed over; many lit in the tall trees along Barton Creek just above its mouth and in the trees along the south side of the river. just above the creek, literally loading down th4 limbs. This was particularly true of the trees within a few hundred yards of the mouth of the creek. A number of the birds were shot and their '~craws" were found to be literally packed with huge acorns, each about an inch in diameter, so large that it seemed impossible the birds could have swallowed them. Not a single bird has been seen in the Austin Region since that year (0), although the species has been recorded later in Lee County (1886, J. A. Singley) and at Houston (1883, and 3 birds in 1896, by market hunters).

Voice.-An explosive squawk.

Description.-Back and head rich slaty-bluish, with metallic reflections on back and sides of neck; flight feathers (primaries) brownish to black; tail long, graduated, slaty-blue, darker at base, with broad white border, the tail-feathers being narrow and pointed at tip; tail nearly as long as wing. Throat bluish-slate; breast and under-parts reddish-salmon or deep rich vinaceous, shading to white on the belly. No black spot on side of neck. Olive-brown wash on middle of back. Female, more olive-brown above, more plain grayish-brown below; slightly smaller. Young more mottled; whitish in front. Iris red. Short tarsus partly feathered down in front. L. 16.30. W. 8. T.
8.25. B. .71.

Field Marks.-A rather large woodland pigeon, with a very long, graduated, pointed tail. Distinctly larger than the Western Mourning Dove (about 5 inches longer), from which it may also be distinguished by its bluish-slaty rump (brownish in the dove), and its darker, slatybluish head.
Popular Names.-Wild Pigeon.


Contributed by Jim Forrest


This page has been visitedtimes.