Texas is a very big state, but three to five billion of anything is a whole lot.
Can you imagine a flock of birds so big that it darkens the sky, strips the land, and leaves everything underneath it covered in, well, you know, bird doodies?
Texas used to be one of the homes of a bird called a Passenger Pigeon. They were so plentiful in East Texas that you could literally swing a stick and knock some out of the sky for dinner. It's said that sometimes it actually took hours for the entire flock to fly by. Seriously. Just imagine how freaky it would be to see a swarm of birds, three to five million strong invade your town (and I'm wondering if this kind of thing inspired Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds").
The Passenger Pigeon's days ended after very aggressive hunting and extermination. People would actually light trees on fire to get rid of the birds. In addition to being a nuisance, the birds would eat all the acorns that settlers wanted to feed their pigs. They would also enjoy some opportunistic dinners at farms along the way. It seems like part of their d.n.a. called for them to be together in large flocks and once they got smaller, they didn't have much of a chance at survival.
The last of these birds died in captivity in 1914. Is it a sad thing? I'm not 100% sure. Right now many cities in Texas deal with huge flocks of Grackles and I don't think anyone would cry if they went away. Then again, the Passenger Pigeon fed a lot of early settlers when there wasn't much else around, so maybe we should at least be grateful and thankful that for a while, they were a huge presence in Texas.
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