Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/37

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THE STORY OF THE CAHOW.

a little farther west. But these and other adjacent islands, including Cooper's Island, were fortified between 1612 and 1620, and it is probable that their occupation, at that time and later, was one of the causes of the rapid extermination of the cahow and egg-birds. We endeavored to secure some bones of the cahow by digging in the rubbish heaps about the old forts on Castle Island, but though we found numerous bones of fishes, hogs, etc., and a few of birds, none appear to belong to the cahow. But probably the deposits that we excavated were of later date, for the Castle Island forts were again garrisoned during the war of 1812. We found old silver and brass military buttons, gun flints and the cores of flint nodules, from which they had been chipped, with many other old relics, but nothing to indicate the first period of occupation, from 1614 to 1625, when alone the cahow might have formed a part of the rations.

In the 'Plain and True Relation' by the Rev. Lewis Hughes, 1621, there is a graphic account of the famine of 1615, from which the following extract is taken:

"The first night that I lay in the Hand, which you call Coopers Hand (whither the lazie starving crewe were sent, and with them some honest industrious persons, though then much out of heart, and now living, and well, thanks unto God) when I saw in every Cabbin Pots and kettles full of birds boyling, and some on spits rosting, and the silly wilde birds comming so tame into my cabbin and goe so familiarly betweene my feet, and round about the cabbin, and into the fire, with a strange lamentable noyse, as though they did bemoan us, and bid us take, kill, roast, and eate them: I was much amazed, and at length said within myselfe, surely the tameness of these wilde birds, and their offring of themselves to be taken, is a manifest token of the goodnesse of God even of his love, his care, his mercy and power working together, to save this people from starving. Mr. Moore then Governour, fearing that their overeating themselves would be their destruction, did remove them from thence to Port Royoll, where they found but little or no want; for, birds they had there also, brought to them, every weeke, from the Ilands adjoyning, whither some were sent of purpose to bird for them."

This account of the habits of the cahow would not, in the least, apply to the shearwater. It is probable, however, that the latter is identical with the nocturnal bird called 'Pimlico' by the early settlers.

The following extract from the 'Historye' by Governor Nathaniel Butler, written about 1619, relates to the famine of 1615, and shows some of the causes of the very rapid extermination of the birds:

"Whilst this Pinnace was on her way for England, scarcetie and famine every day more and more prevayleinge upon the sickly colony, caused the governour to look well about him; in the beginning of the newe yeare, therefore (1615), 150 persons, of the most ancient, sick, and weake, wer sent into Coopers Iland, ther to be relieved by the comeinge in of the sea-birds, especially the Cahowes, wher, by this half hunger-starved company, they are found in infinite numbers, and with all so tame and amazed they are, that upon the least howeteinge or noyee, they would fall downe, and light upon their shoulders