The article below writes about the now extict Passenger Pigeon as they were in 1888.

There is a wonderful Ted Conference video (Link Below) you can watch on how we may be able to bring this pigeon back to life.

Stewart Brand: The dawn of de-extinction. Are you ready?

The present status of the wild (Passenger) pigeon bird of the United States with some notes on its habits.

Written in 1888 by William Brewster in a magazine called "The Friend"

In the spring of 1888, my friend Capt. Bendire wrote me that he had received news from a correspondent in central Michigan, to the effect that while pigeons had arrived there in large numbers, and were preparing to nest. Acting on this information, I started at once, in company with Mr. Jonathan Dwight, Jr., to visit the expected “nesting” and learn as much as possible about the habits of the breeding birds, as well as to secure specimen of their skins and eggs.

On reaching Cadillac, Michigan, May 8, we've found that large flocks of pigeons had passed there late in April -- while there were reports of similar flights from almost every county in the southern part of the state. Although most of the birds had passed on before our arrival, the professional pigeon netters, confident that they would finally breed somewhere in the southern peninsula, were busily engaged getting their nets and other apparatus in order for an extensive campaign against the poor birds.

We were assured that as soon as the breeding colony became established, the fact would be known all over the state, and there would be no difficulty in ascertaining its precise location. Accordingly we waited at Cadillac about two weeks, during which time we were in correspondence with netters in different parts of the region. No news came however, and one by one the netters lost heart, until finally most of them agreed that the pigeons had gone too far north, beyond the reach of mail or telegraph communication.

The last nesting in Michigan of any importance was in 1881, a few miles west of Grand Traverse. It was only of moderate size -- perhaps 8 miles long. Subsequently, in 1886, S. S. Stevens, of Cadillac, found about 50 dozen pairs nesting in a swamp near Lake City. He does not doubt that similar small colonies occur every year, besides scattered pairs. In fact he sees a few pigeons about Cadillac every summer, and in early autumn young birds barely able to fly are often met with singly or in small parties in the woods. Such stragglers attract little attention, and no one attempts to net them, although many are shot.

The largest nesting he ever visited was in 1876 or 1877. It was began near Petoskey, and extended north past Crooked Lake, for 28 miles, averaging three or four miles wide. The birds arrived in two separate bodies -- one directly from the south by land, the other following east coast of Wisconsin, and crossing the Manitou Island. He saw the latter body come in from the lake at about three o’clock in the afternoon. It was a compact mass of pigeons, at least 5 miles long by 1 mile wide. The birds began building when the snow was 12 inches and in the woods, although the fields were fair at that time. So rapidly did the colony extend its boundaries, that it soon past literally all around the place where he was netting, although where he began, this point was several miles from the nearest nest. Nestings usually start in deciduous woods, but during their progress the pigeons do not skip any kind of trees they encounter. The Petoskey nesting extended 8 miles through hardwood timber, then crossed a river bottom wooded with arborvitae, and thence stretched through white pine woods about 20 miles. For the entire distance of 28 miles, every tree of any size had more or less nests, and many trees were filled with them. None were lower than about 15 feet above the ground. Pigeons are very noisy when building. They make a sound resembling the croaking of wood-frogs. Their combined clamor can be heard 4 or 5 miles away, when the atmospheric conditions are favorable. To eggs are usually laid, but many nests contain only one. Both birds incubate, the females between 2:00 PM and 9 or 10 o'clock the next morning -- the males from 9 or 10:00 AM to 2  o’clock AM. The males feed twice each day, namely, from daylight to about 8 o'clock AM, and again late in the afternoon. The change is made with great regularity as to time, all the males being on the nest by 10 o’clock AM. During the morning and evening no females are ever caught by the netters: during the forenoon no males. The sitting bird does not leave the nest until the bill of its incoming mate nearly touches its tail, the former slipping off as the latter takes its place. Thus the eggs are constantly covered; and but a few are ever thrown out, despite the fragile character of the nests and the swaying of the trees in high winds. The old birds never feed in or near the nesting, leaving all the beech mast, etc., there for their young. Many of them go 100 miles each day for food. Mr. Stevens is satisfied that pigeons continue laying and hatching during the entire summer. They do not, however, use the same nesting place a second time in one season, the entire colony always moving from 20 to 100 miles after the appearance of each brood of young. Mr. Stevens, as well as many of the other netters with whom we talked, believes that they breed during their absence in the south in the winter, asserting as proof of this that young birds in considerable numbers often accompany the earliest spring flights.

Pigeon netting in Michigan is conducted as follows: Each netter has three beds. At least two, and sometimes as many as 10 strikes are made on a single bed in one day, but the bed is often allowed to rest for a day or two. 40 or 50 dozen birds are a good haul for one strike. Often only 10 or 12 dozen are taken. Mr. Stevens highest catch is 86 dozen, but once he caught 106 dozen captured at a single strike. If too large a number are on the bed, they will sometimes raise the net bodily and escape. Usually about one-third are too quick for the net, and fly out before it falls. Two kinds of beds are used the mud bed and I dry bed. The former is most killing in Michigan, but, for some unknown reason, it will not attract birds in Wisconsin. It is made of mud, kept in a moist condition, and saturated with a mixture of salt peter and Anise seed. Pigeons are very fond of salt, and resort to salt springs where ever they occur. The dry bed is simply a level space of ground, carefully cleared of grass, weeds, etc., and baited with corn or other grain. Pigeons are peculiar and their habits must be studied by the netter, if he would be successful. When they are feeding on beech mast, they often will not touch grain of any kind, and mast must then be used for bait. A stool bird is an essential part of the netters outfit. It is tied on a box, and by an ingenious arrangement of cords, by which it can be gently raised or lowered, is made to flap its wings at intervals. This attracts the attention of passing birds, which alight on the nearest tree, or on a perch which is usually provided for that purpose. After a portion of the flock has decended to the bed, they are started up by raising the stool bird, and fly back down to the perch. When they fly down a second time, all or nearly all the others follow or accompany them, and the net is struck. The usual method of killing pigeons is to break their necks with a pair of pinchers, the end of which are bent so that they do not quite meet. Great care must be taken not to shed blood on the bed, for the pigeons noticed this at once and are much alarmed by it. Young birds can be netted in week stubble in the autumn, but this is seldom attempted. When just able to fly, however they are caught in enormous numbers, near the nestings, in pens made up slats. A few dozen old pigeons are confined in the pens as decoys, and a net is thrown over the mouth of the pen when a sufficient number of young birds have entered it. Mr. Stevens has known over 400 dozen young pigeons to be taken at once by this method. The first birds sent to market yield the net or about one dollar a dozen. At the height of the season the price sometimes falls as low as $.12 a dozen. It averages about $.25.

Five weeks are consumed by a single nesting. Then the young are forced out of their nests by the old birds. Mr. Stevens has twice seen this done. One of the pigeons, usually the male, pushes the young off the nest by force. The latter struggles and squeals precisely like a tame squab, but is finally crowded out along the branch, and after further feeble resistance flutters down to the ground. Three or four days elapsed before it is able to fly well. Upon leaving the nest, it is often fatter and heavier than the old birds; but it quickly becomes much thinner and lighter, despite the enormous quantity of food that it consumes.

On one occasion an immense flock of young birds became bewildered in a fog while crossing Crooked Lake, and descending, struck the water and perished by thousands. The shore for miles was covered a foot or more deep with them. The old birds rose above the fog, and none were killed.

At least 500 men were engaged in netting pigeons during the great Petoskey nesting of 1881. Mr. Stevens thought that they may have captured on the average of 20,000 birds apiece during the season. Sometimes two carloads were shipped south on the railroad each day. Nevertheless he believed that not one bird in a thousand was taken. Hawks and owls often abound near the nesting. Owls can be heard hooting there all night long. The Cooper's Hawk often catches the stool pigeon. During the Petoskey season, Mr. Stevens lost 12 stool birds in this way.

There has been much dispute among writers and observers, beginning with Audubon and Wilson and extending down to the present day, as to whether the wild pigeon lays one or two eggs. I questioned Mr. Stevens closely on this point. He assured me that he had frequently found two eggs or two young in the same nest, but that fully half of the nest which he had examined contained only one.

All the netters with whom we talked believe firmly that there are just as many pigeons in the West as there ever were. They say the birds have been driven from Michigan and the adjoining states partly by persecution, and partly by the destruction of the forests, and have retreated to uninhabited regions, perhaps north of the Great Lakes in British North America.

Doubtless there is some truth to this theory; for, that the pigeon is not, as has been asserted so often recently, on the verge of extinction, is shown by the flight which passed through Michigan in the spring of 1888. This flight according to the testimony of many reliable observers, was a large one, and the birds must have formed a nesting of considerable extent in some region so remote that no news of its presence reached the ears of the vigilant netters. Thus it is probable that enough pigeons are left to restock the West, provided that laws, sufficiently stringent to give them fair protection, be at once enacted. The present laws of Michigan and Wisconsin are simply worse than useless -- for, while they prohibit disturbing the birds within the nesting, they allow unlimited netting only a few miles beyond its outskirts during the entire breeding season. The theory is, that the words are so infinitely numerous, that their ranks are not seriously thinned by catching a few million of breeding birds in a summer, and that the only danger to be guarded against is that of frightening them away by the use of guns and nets in the woods where their nests are placed. The absurdity of such reasoning is self-evident; but singularly enough, the netters, many of whom struck me as intelligent and honest men, seem to really believe in it. As they have more or less local influence, and, in addition, the powerful backing of the large game dealers in the cities, it is not likely that any really effectual laws can be passed until the last of our passenger pigeons are preparing to follow the great auk and the American bison.