Ever since the Expulsion man has searched for the Garden of Eden, and we shouldn’t find it at all surprising to know that among the many who claim to have found it, one was a bespectacled, God-fearing lawyer from Weogufka, Alabama, who declared in 1956 that “the Garden was in the Apalachicola Valley of West Florida.”
Elvy Edison Callaway was a man of deep faith who fell under the influence of a Dr. Brown Landone. Among the many books Landone wrote offering advice to ordinary mortals is Prophecies of Melchizedek in the Great Pyramid and the Seven Temples. Callaway describes his meeting with Landone as a “calling,” and promptly abandoned his family.
While surveying his Panhandle land with a tax assessor–with no doubt a divorce looming–Callaway found the inspiration for his mission from Melchizedek: the rare Torreya yew tree, which Callaway, through the teachings of Dr. Landone and his mysterious “Teleois Key”, declared to be the source of “gofer wood” from which Noah built the Ark.
After that revelation, everything fell in place. Abandoning his once ardent faith in Christianity, Callaway, through “teleology”, fused what he knew of evolutionary theory and Scripture and decided that “because all informed geologists admit that it is the oldest land mass on earth”, God created Adam about a mile outside Bristol, Florida. He then created the Garden of Eden along the Apalachicola River there and filled it with citruses, magnolias, hydrangeas, mountain laurel and of course the majestic gopher yew (one of the few trees in North America considered “critically endangered”).
E.E. Callaway’s Garden of Eden is protected today as part of The Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. Accessible via Garden of Eden Road, the preserve has a Garden of Eden Trail leading through the site. The scenery is spectacular; clear, bubbling streams flow through the bottoms of the steep ravines, which support rare plants and animals, some found nowhere else in the world. Callaway’s southern Eden might not be the original–who are we, or who is anyone for that matter to say so–but it’s still a little bit of paradise in this fallen world; God knows we need more of them.
Every childhood has a Radley house, a Boo around the corner opening our eyes to a world that doesn’t appear or work the way we thought it does or will.
Old Rain spooked my little world. Some said he was a freakish child abandoned by a troupe of carnies, others said he was a lost baby Bigfoot come south. When he wasn’t brooding in a boarded-up house in Pittsboro, he haunted the woods and hollows feeding the creeks and streams that make the Skuna River.
I don’t know why we called him Old Rain, but what else is the Skuna or any other river for that matter except rain that’s found its way from hills to the bottoms and over-wintered in owl-haunted sloughs, distilled and aged, steeped in the character of the land–an inspiration of earth itself?
We lose imaginary monsters under the baggage of adulthood, so I tucked Old Rain away after finding far more frightening things than furtive whisperings on lonely pathways.
Now I believe he was a faunus of the little river bottoms and low wooded hills that my Chickasaw ancestors knew and loved. They would call him a poboli, one of the hidden people of the woods, and my Welsh ancestors would call him a green man, both living vestiges of the vital, spirit of the old forests which were themselves a manifestation of divinity on earth.
Now Old Rain in mind and memory is my companion in those places I cherish most: bright spring hills, close summer woods, and frosty winter fields. Hold close to your Boos, and make of them your own magic.
In flight, a jewel, in flocks, a mandala, Carolina parakeets provided fleeting, noisy spectacles in the rain forest that was the virgin South.
It was a beautiful little bird; brilliant green, with a yellow head, and a line of red around the face. The wings were edged in orange. Audubon kept one as a pet; Wilson found them in Natchez in 1811, but records are spotty. Chances are they were never that numerous.
Their diet of green fruit doomed them, and they were easily exterminated; when one bird fell to a gun, others descended around it. Inevitably, gunfire resumed, and they were slaughtered.
Carolina parakeets died out in the early 20th century. The last known wild specimen was killed in Okeechobee County, Florida, in 1904, and the last captive bird died at the Cincinnati Zoo on February 21, 1918.
This bird, Incas, died within a year of his mate, Lady Jane. In a case of what has been termed tragic irony, Incas died in the same aviary enclosure where the last passenger pigeon, Martha, died four years earlier.
By 1939, the Carolina parakeet had been declared extinct by most authorities. Some believed a few may have been smuggled out of the country and repopulated elsewhere, but that’s the same wishful thinking that buoys up news of ivory-bills.
At the height of our summer, the winter constellations begin to be seen in the eastern dusk. Among the brightest of these is Orion, and close on the heels of this great hunter is his big dog, Canis Major, with brilliant Sirius, the Dog Star.
When we can find Sirius in the darkening east, which at this latitude (Jackson is 32.2988° N) is between July 21 and August 3, our dog days begin, and for the next forty days or so, it’s hot as hell all the damn time.
Mississippi stretches from the foothills of the Appalachians to the Gulf of Mexico, and her western border, her namesake, is one of the greatest rivers in the world. The state provides both residents and visitors with a wide range of natural environments: shady alluvial swamps, sunny beaches and barrier islands, rolling wooded hills, spacious piney woods and open prairies, all the home of a rich spectrum of living creatures. While this selection of materials does not claim to be definitive, it was created by Mary Stripling, who is uniquely qualified to make such a list of guides to identifying plants and animals in Mississippi.
Mary is now enjoying retirement, but as the librarian at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson from 1978-2010, she interacted with biologists in every realm of nature. Mary has been an avid birder and leader in the Jackson Audubon Society since the mid 1980’s, and has traveled extensively on birding ecotourism trips to destinations like New Zealand, Kenya, the Amazon and Central America, as well as to birding hot spots in North America. In each case she has used a field guide appropriate for each area. She has also utilized most of the other guides on the list while pursuing butterflies, dragonflies, turtles, freshwater mussels, insects, etc. and by helping museum guests identify all the various critters they find in the field or their backyards.
“Over the years there has been an explosion of nature field guides for North America, the eastern United States, Mississippi and surrounding states,” Mary says. “I’ve consulted with the biologists and botanists at the museum regarding the most accurate guides for each discipline. Some books included in the list are not field guide size such as Sibley’s Tree Guide, Fishes of Inland Mississippi and Birds of Mississippi, but all serious naturalists should study guides at home; you should be prepared to know what you might encounter before going into your own backyard.”
Mary includes asterisks by the titles most necessary for a Mississippi nature library. “These books will give you the most bang for your buck; for the most part the list is of selected general field guides, is not inclusive and does not include specialty guides such as guides for tiger beetles, wasps, warblers, hummingbirds, hawks, etc. I’ve included a few animal sound CDs for learning bird and frog songs and two are unique to Mississippi (the Mississippi bird and frog songs recorded by Bill Turcotte).” Mary was responsible for updating the original Mississippi bird and frog cassettes to CDs and revising the accompanying booklets. “No attempt has been made to include mobile digital apps for plant and animal identification, even though in the past few years apps have made a huge impact on nature watching. They are wonderful devices to take to the field especially for compactness, ease of use and for accessing sounds.”
But, she adds, “It is always great to curl up in your easy chair and enjoy a good read with your favorite field guide to get ready for your next outing.”
For a fuller appreciation of our state’s natural environments and their denizens, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson offers an absorbing collection of informative displays as well as exhibits of living plants and animals. As a center for research and support, the Museum helps to preserve and protect the swamps, the barrier islands, piney woods, prairies and living things that Mississippi calls her own.
VENOMOUS ANIMALS AND POISONOUS PLANTS
Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America Turner, Nancy J. and Szczawinski, Adam F. Timber Press; 1991
A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants, North America, North of Mexico Foster, Steven; Caras, Roger A.; National Audubon Society; National Wildlife Federation, and Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Houghton Mifflin; 1994 (Peterson field guide series).
*Poisonous Plants and Venomous Animals of Alabama and Adjoining States Gibbons, Whit; Haynes, Robert; and Thomas, Joab L. University of Alabama Press; 1990
Poisonous Plants of the Southeastern United States Everest, John W.; Powe, Thomas A., and Freeman, John Daniel. University of Florida, Florida Cooperative Extension Services, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; 1996
*Venomous Snakes of Mississippi, [pamphlet] Terry L. Vandeventer Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, 1994 (free)
Birds and Birding on the Mississippi Coast Toups, Judith A.; Jackson, Jerome A., and King, Dalton Shourds University Press of Mississippi; 1987; 303 p.
*Birds of Mississippi William H. Turcotte and David L. Watts University Press of Mississippi, 1999
*A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, 6th ed. Roger Tory Peterson & Virginia Marie Peterson Houghton Mifflin, 2010. (Peterson Field Guide Series)
Guide to Birding Coastal Mississippi and Adjacent Counties Toups, Judith A.; Bird, Jerry L., and Peterson, Stacy Jon. Stackpole Books; 2004; 168 p.
Mississippi Bird Watching: A Year-Round Guide Thompson, Bill. Cool Springs Press; 2004; 165 p.
*National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America Dunn, Jon L. and Jonathan Alderfer. National Geographic; 6th Rev Updated edition, 2011; 576 pages.
*Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America Lee Peterson and Roger Tory Peterson (Peterson Field Guide Series) Houghton Mifflin, 2008
*The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America David Allen Sibley Knopf, 2003
*The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd ed. David Allen Sibley Knopf; 2014
*Backyard Bird Song [CD] Richard K. Walton and R. W. Lawson (Peterson Field Guide) Houghton Mifflin Co, 1991
*Birding by Ear: A Guide to Bird-Song Identification – Eastern and Central North America [CD] R. K. Walton and R. W. Lawson (Peterson Field Guide Series) Houghton Mifflin Co, 1989
Mississippi Bird Songs [CD] William H. Turcotte Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, 1985, 2008
A Field Guide to Eastern Trees: Eastern United States and Canada Petrides, George A.; Wehr, Janet, and Petrides, George A. Houghton Mifflin; 1988; 272 p.
Identification of Southeastern Trees in Winter Preston, Richard Joseph North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service; 1976; 113 p.
Mississippi Trees Hodges, John D.; Evans, David L.; Garnett, Linda W., and Mississippi Forestry Commission. Mississippi Forestry Commission; [200-?].(This book is free and updated every few years.)
Native Trees for Urban Landscapes in the Gulf South Brzuszek, Robert F. Crosby Arboretum; 1993; 11 p.
*Native Trees of the Southeast : an identification guide Kirkman, L. Katherine; Brown, Claud L., and Leopold, Donald Joseph. Timber Press; 2007; 370 p.
*The Sibley Guide to Trees Sibley, David. Knopf, 2009; 426p
*Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Louisiana Charles M. Allen, Dawn Allen Newman, and Harry H. Winters. Allen’s Native Ventures, 2002
*Trees of the Southeastern U. S. Wilbur H. Duncan and Marion B. Duncan University of Georgia Press, 1988. Reprinted, 1992.
Trees of Mississippi : and other woody plants Dukes, George H. and Stribling, Bob. Poplar Petal Pub; [1997?]
WILDFLOWERS, MUSHROOMS, FERNS AND OTHER PLANTS
Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America Turner, Nancy J. and Szczawinski, Adam F. Timber Press; 1991; 311 p.
*A Field Guide to Southern Mushrooms Nancy S. Weber and A. H. Smith University of Michigan, 1985
An Illustrated Guide to Tidal Marsh Plants of Mississippi and Adjacent States Lionel Eleuterius Pelican Press, 1990
Louisiana Ferns and Fern Allies (out of print) John W. Thieret University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1980
*Louisiana Wildflower Guide Charles Allen, Ken Wilson, Harry Winters Allen Native Ventures, 2011
A Mississippi Woodland Fern Portfolio George H. Dukes, Jr. Poplar Petal Publishers, 2002
Mushrooms of Mississippi: and Other Fungi and Protists George H. Dukes, Jr. Poplar Petal Publishers, 2000
*Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southeast : Landscaping Uses and Identification Leonard E. Foote and Samuel B. Jones Timber Press, 1989
*Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Louisiana Charles M. Allen, Dawn Allen Newman, and Harry H. Winters. Allen’s Native Ventures, 2002
Southeastern Flora www.southeasternflora.com A superior, searchable website done by John Gwaltney, Southeastern Flora is an online resource to assist you in identifying native or naturalized wildflowers you may find in the southeastern United States. Currently there are over 1,980 species listed on this site and over 41,400 pictures to help you identify what you’re looking for. You can easily identify trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants without knowing how to read a plant identification key. Simply define a few traits about your specimen, and the visual photo search results will help you narrow your selection to the exact species. Note the Plant Picks List, which is a valuable aid.
*Wildflowers of Mississippi S. Lee Timme University Press of Mississippi, 1989
Wildflowers of the Natchez Trace S. Lee Timme and Cale C. Timme University Press of Mississippi, 2000
REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS
The Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana Dundee, Harold A. and Rossman, Douglas A. Louisiana State University Press; 1989; 300 p.
*A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America Roger Conant and Joseph T. Collins (Peterson Field Guide) Houghton Mifflin, 1998
*A Guide to Mississippi Frog Songs, [CD] William H. Turcotte MS Depart of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, 1988
Mississippi Herpetology Ren Lohoefener MS State University Research Center, 1983 (Out of Print)
*Salamanders of the United States and Canada Petranka, James W. Smithsonian Institution Press; 1998, 587 p.
*Snakes of eastern North America Ernst, Carl H. and Barbour, Roger William. George Mason University Press; 1989; 282 p.
Snakes of North America: Eastern and Central Regions Alan Tennant and R. D. Bartlett Gulf Publishing Company, 2000
*Snakes of the Southeast Whit Gibbons and Mick Dorcas University of Georgia Press, 2005
*Turtles of the United States and Canada Ernst, Carl H. and Lovich, Jeffrey E. 2nd ed. Johns Hopkins University Press; 2009; 827 p.
*Venomous Snakes of Mississippi, [pamphlet] Terry L. Vandeventer Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, 1994 (free)
*A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes : North America North of Mexico. 2nd ed. Brooks M. Burr, John Sherrod, Lawrence Page, E. Beckham, Justin Sipiorski, Joseph Tomelleri (Peterson Field Guide) Houghton Mifflin, 2011
*Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Adjacent Waters H. Dickson Hoese and Richard H. Moore Texas A&M University Press, 1998
*Inland Fishes of Mississippi Stephen T. Ross University Press of Mississippi, 2001
A Field Guide to Mammals of North America Fiona A. Reid (Peterson Field Guide) Houghton Mifflin, 4th ed., 2006
*Handbook of Mammals of the South-Central States Jerry R. Choate, J. Knox Jones, Jr., and Clyde Jones Louisiana State University Press, 1994
Mammal Tracks and Sign: A Guide to North American Species Mark Elbroch Stackpole Books, 2003
The Marine Mammals of the Gulf of Mexico Bernd Wursig, Thomas A. Jefferson and David J. Schmidly Texas A & M University Press, 2000
Mississippi Land Mammals: Distribution, Identification, Ecological Notes James L. Wolfe Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Mississippi Game and Fish Commission, 1971 (free)
*The Wild Mammals of Missouri C. W. Schwartz and Elizabeth R. Schwartz University of Missouri Press, 2001
INVERTEBRATES (divided into categories)
*Beetles of Eastern North America Arthur Evans Princeton University Press, 2014
»Butterflies & Moths
Butterflies and Moths. 2nd ed. Carter, David J. and Greenaway, Frank. (Smithsonian handbooks series) New York: Dorling Kindersley; 2002; 304p.
*Butterflies and Moths : a guide to the more common American species Mitchell, Robert T.; Zim, Herbert Spencer; Latimer, Jonathan P., and Nolting, Karen Stray. Rev. and updated ed. St. Martin’s Press; 2002; 160 p.
*Butterflies of Mississippi: a field checklist Mather, Bryant and Dingus, Eve. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science; 1994. (free)
Butterflies of the East Coast : an observer’s guide Cech, Rick and Tudor, Guy. Princeton University Press; 2005; 345 p.
Butterflies Through Binoculars Jeffery Glassberg Oxford University Press, 1993
*Caterpillars of Eastern North America: A Guide to Identification and Natural History David Wagner (Princeton Field Guide series) Princeton University Press, 2005
The Common Names of North American Butterflies Miller, Jacqueline Y. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press; 1992; 177 p.
*A Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies Paul Opler, Vichai Malikul, Roger Tory Peterson (Peterson Field Guide Series) Houghton Mifflin, 1998
*Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America David Beadle and Seabrooke Leckie (Peterson Field Guide Series) Houghton Mifflin, 2012
*Peterson First Guide to Caterpillars of North America Amy Bartlett Wright (Peterson First Guides) Houghton Mifflin, 1998
»Dragonfiles And Damselflies Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East Dennis Paulson (Princeton Field Guide Series) Princeton University Press, 2012
*Dragonflies Through Binoculars: A Field and Finding Guide to Dragonflies of North America Sidney W. Dunkle Oxford University Press, 2000
Stokes Beginner’s Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies Blair Nikula and Jackie Sones Little, Brown and Company, 2002
»Insects *A Field Guide to Insects: America North of Mexico Richard White, Richard White, Donald Borror, Donald Borror. (Peterson Field Guide Series) Houghton Mifflin, 1998
*National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders Milne and Milne Knopf, 1980, 1996 992p.
*National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America Arthur V. Evans Chanticleer Press, 2007, 496p.
»Spiders Common Spiders of North America Richard A. Bradley University of California Press, 2012
*A Guide to Spiders and Their Kin Herbert W. Levi, Lorna R. Levi, Nicholas Strekalovsky. Golden Guides from St. Martin’s Press, 2001
In 1943 Mississippi Governor Paul B. Johnson, Sr. along with the governors of three other Southern states—Sam Jones of Louisiana, Prentiss Cooper of Tennessee, and Homer Adkins of Arkansas—joined in an action that remains unique in the annals of American history: a last-ditch effort to save a species from extinction.
Magnificent in flight, majestic in repose, the ivory-bill was the largest woodpecker in North America, second in the world to its closest relative, the imperial ivory-bill of Central America and the Caribbean. The ivory-bill at first sight is said to have caused newcomers to the primeval woodlands of the South where it once lived to exclaim, “Lord God, what is that thing?!”
As the vast virgin woodlands of the South fell to the axe during the late 19th and early 20th century the ivory-bills, which required extensive tracts of timber to survive (an estimated 2.5 square miles of old-growth forest for a mating pair), began to starve.
By the first decades of the 20th century, only one sizeable portion of virgin Southern woodland remained intact, an area of dense mixed long-leaf pine and deciduous trees that stretched from the Brazos River in Texas to the Tensas in Louisiana. Once covering over 2 million acres, by the 1930s the “Big Thicket” had shrunk to a mere 800,000.
In an an odd twist of fate, an extensive section of this forest had been purchased by the Singer Sewing Machine Company to secure hardwood for machine cabinets. This, the so-called Singer Tract, was the last documented home of the ivory-bill, and the fate of this splendid bird indeed hung by a thread. In 1937 Singer sold the logging rights to the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company, and in the next year cutting began. Under the agreement, land logged by Chicago Mill and Lumber became that firm’s property, but until then, the Singer Company still held ownership.
The survival of the ivory-bill became a subject of national consideration (a significant gesture during the war years) involving not only the four aforementioned governors, but President Roosevelt, the Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the directors of the National Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the War Production Board, and the National Audubon Society.
In December of 1943, the chairman of the board of the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company met with the brokers of a potential land deal that would have established a national park and refuge for the ivory-bill. The other participants were Louisiana’s conservation commissioner, the refuge director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their attorney John Baker.
But despite the offer of $200,000 from the state of Louisiana to purchase the remaining Singer Tract, James F. Griswold, chairman of the Chicago Mill and Lumber board, refused to deal. In what is perhaps the ugliest and most blatant admission of corporate greed and irresponsibility in the history of the United States, Griswold said, “We are just money grubbers. We are not concerned, as are you folks, with ethical considerations.” In a similar vein, Singer Company treasurer and vice president John Morton told Baker that Singer “didn’t care.”
Subsequent offers proved fruitless, and the Singer Tract was clear-cut (by German POWs, no less), creating a wasteland of baked mud studded with stumps, sending the Lord God bird over the abyss into certain extinction.
Fannye Cook was a pioneer environmentalist who championed the protection and preservation of Mississippi’s rich natural environment. She led the campaign to create the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, and its educational and research arm, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.
Fannye Addine Cook was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi on July 19, 1889. By that time, Mississippi like most of the South was catastrophically denuded of the great virgin forests that stretched from east Texas to tidewater Virginia. In A Turn in the South, V.S. Naipaul spoke with a woman in Jackson who said, “When I was a little girl—say in 1915—they were still clearing (the forests). They would go and chop around these mighty oaks and they would then die and they would cut them. When they were going to clear out a field they would kill the trees. I never paid any attention to it. It was what they did.”
As James Cummins notes in his Preface, “the blackland prairie of eastern Mississippi had been cultivated to less than one percent of its former size, “White-tailed deer, Louisiana black bear, American alligator, wood duck, and other species were nearly eliminated by lawless exploitation. Streams and rivers were choked with eroding soil. The idea of caring for the land and its community of inhabitants, what writer and ecologist Aldo Leopold called a ‘land ethic,’ had not taken hold in Mississippi.”
That this biography of Fannye includes in its first few pages the following vivid documentation of passenger pigeons in Mississippi strikes a strong, graceful and resounding note against a bleak lack of consideration for the natural world. The passenger pigeon was once the most abundant bird, perhaps even the most abundant vertebrate, on the planet. Audubon once watched a flock pass overhead for three days and estimated that at times more than 300 million pigeons flew by him each hour.
But these birds were slaughtered unmercifully during the 19th century, and after a description of one massacre, Audubon wrote, “Persons unacquainted with these birds might naturally conclude that such dreadful havoc would soon put an end to the species. But I have satisfied myself, by long observation, that nothing but the gradual diminution of our forests can accomplish their decrease, as they not unfrequently quadruple their numbers yearly, and always at least double it.”
From this perspective, these numbers seem incredulously inflated, yet as the slaughters continued and the forests fell–particularly the great beech woods of the Ohio Valley–the passenger pigeon declined in number with proportionate rapidity, and their extinction was sealed by the death of the last known member of the species, a female named Martha (after the first First Lady) that died on September 1, 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Though many of Cook’s specimens at the old Jefferson Street museum were destroyed by water during the 1979 Jackson flood, her documents and other materials form the core of the 18,000-volume library in the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. It was there I sought information about the last passenger pigeons in Mississippi. A long-time librarian at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Mary Stripling, provided me with this information concerning passenger pigeons in Mississippi.
“Jesse,” Mary wrote, “You are grasping at straws looking for the last one sighted in Mississippi.” She then cited several primary resources for more information, and also gave me the last sight records in their collection, adding that they appear to be handwritten by Miss Cook herself.
Year: 1848;Observer: T. J. Pierce; Place: Brookhaven – Bayou Pierre. “One fall the pigeons came one afternoon by the thousands. There were so many and they were so thick the sun could not be seen and they darkened the sky. They flew low, many of them only 10 or 12 feet, so low that they could be knocked down with brush. They settled in the trees just on edge of grandfather’s farm and weighted them down. Many men and boys went out and shot them to eat — meat dark about like guinea. Only this one time were they seen there.”
Year : 1878;Observer: G. M. Cook; Place: Copiah County – Utica. “Still a good many pigeons in Pearl River swamp and on hills. Daddy killed several at one shot out of a flock of about 20 in the top of a big pine tree over 100 ft. high (short leaf pine). In 1858 very large flocks so large and so low that Daddy and other school kids would run thru them with arms spread. The birds moved out of their way just far enough to keep from getting caught by the children.”
Undoubtedly straggling bands of passenger pigeons survived in Mississippi for perhaps a decade afterwards but were likely exterminated–well before the turn of the century. Yes, I was grasping at straws, but I knew where to look for the information I needed about the natural world in the state of Mississippi and thanks to Fannye Cook I found it. Whether you’re a hunter, a hiker or just someone loves Mississippi, buy this book, support local conservation groups, and care for your share of the planet.