Did you know that Passenger Pigeon trapping was the source of the term “stool pigeon”?
This from the New Yorker earlier this year:
More elaborate methods were used, of course—like luring the birds into nets with a live pigeon, which is the origin of the term “stool pigeon.” A demand for stool pigeons opened up a trade in live birds, and so did the later development of “trap shooting,” in which live birds were mechanically launched into the air for sportsmen.
So many birds died in transport to the shoots that huge numbers were needed. (The “clay pigeon” was devised by passenger-pigeon hunters to replicate the experience after the actual birds grew scarce.)
Environmental Writer Jim O’Neill had a sad but fascinating article in The Record earlier this week, about the demise a century ago (Sept. 1, 1914) of the Passenger Pigeon, once the most numerous bird on Earth.
The old lithograph from Frank Leslie’s Weekly above, courtesy of the Library of Congress, is of a Passenger Pigeon shooting match just outside of Jersey City in the 1860s. The two-day match involved the killing of hundreds of birds.
The link is here.
The article accompanying the lithograph follows. The match drew more than 10,000 people, according to the article.
Tomorrow: All about the phrase “stool pigeon.” Continue reading