Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Passenger pigeons

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So yeah, apparently in the 19th century there were at least 2 billion passenger pigeons in North America. The birds' only natural defense was to congregate in sheer numbers. There are multiple accounts of flocks a mile wide and 300 miles long. That's like a single flock from here to Detroit. Witnesses said it took hours from the thing to pass overhead.

Then folks needed cheap meat to feed their slaves, so they started killing the pigeons and packing them on trains back to NYC and Boston. The majority of the birds were killed in just twenty years, between 1870 and 1890. People doused their grain with liquor and shot the birds after they were drunk.

The last wild flock of passenger pigeons were killed in 1896; a quarter of a million in one day. Wasn't over yet, though. There were still a few left in captivity and the last of these, a bird named Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. She was named after Martha Washington.

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Robert Paul Weston

Robert Paul Weston's fiction has appeared in magazines on both sides of the Atlantic and been nominated for The Journey Prize in Canada and The Fountain Award for Speculative Literature in the United States. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and lives in Toronto.

His website is www.robertpaulweston.com

Go to Robert Paul Weston’s Author Page