Gigantic flocks of passenger pigeons once darkened the skies of northern Pennsylvania where some of their largest nesting grounds were located. These "wild pigeons" are now extinct. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the last sighting of this species was in 1906; read more about this fascinating bird in the species profile posted by the Game Commission.

The presence of a large flock of pigeons near Ridgway, Pennsylvania led to a lively discussion in the columns of the Elk County Advocate during May and June of 1866.

The pigeon hunters [near Ridgway] are having a fine time in the way of success, and by the way wagons loaded with them are coming into town [Ridgway], we should judge that there has been about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,770 of them killed. The pigeon nesting in Highland [township] continues to be a great attraction. Hunters and lovers of the curious are daily going and returning. The “squabs” have been gathered in great quantities and shipped off. Acres of timber have been cut down for the purpose of getting them. They are now able to fly and we presume must be shot. After they had grown to considerable size and just before they could fly a very easy mode of capturing them was to jar the tree, then the squabs would jump out of the nests and fall or flutter to the ground. A colony of about sixty Indians have established themselves among them and are making terrible havoc. The little Indian boys are said to be bringing down the pigeons by their bows and arrows with an unerringness of aim worthy of the days when through this land the rights of their race there was “none to dispute.” (Elk County Advocate, May 1866)

Henry Warner, Esq., whose mathematical query as to our pigeons is yet unanswered, propounds a new question. He seems to think that our statement of the number of pigeons slaughtered might be a trifle exaggerated and that the odd 770 may be thrown off without much violence to the truth. His question as now presented is “allowing each pigeon to occupy one cubic inch, of what length must be the side of a cubical pit to contain 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pigeons?” Where is the schoolmaster? (Elk County Advocate, June 1866)