Early settlers recorded massive flocks a mile wide and up to 300 miles long. These clouds of birds were so dense they darkened the sky for days as the immense flock passed overhead, one tier above the other. They were so thickly packed that a single shot from a shotgun could bring down 30 or 40 birds. Population estimates from the 19th century ranged from three to five billion birds.
Then began probably the most severe example of mass wildlife slaughter in history. The young chicks were regarded as a great delicacy, and the adults were killed for their feathers as well as their meat. Commercial hunters harvested tens of thousands of individuals daily, shipping them by boxcar-loads to markets in the East. In 1855, about 300,000 pigeons a year were being sent to New York restaurants. During 1874, Michigan sent over 3,000,000 birds east. – Amazing Facts