Millions of Wheatbirds Invade North Texas Fields, 1849
In 1849, Dallas-area farmers had their wheat fields invaded by millions of wheatbirds (otocoris alpestris or horned lark). An 1858 account in the Dallas Herald newspaper relates one farmer's attempts to save his crop:
"He sought by gun and shot, ringing bells, beating tin pans, and every other available noise-maker, to frighten them from his grounds. For this purpose, bringing his whole force, big and little, into requisition, with these motley weapons he stationed the little army over the field. Finding that his efforts were likely to prove unavailing, he thought to compromise with the enemy by giving up a part of the field, and concentrating his force on the remainder, and defend it the more effectually.
The rapacious gluttons soon made a ' clean sweep' of the relinquished spoils, and then swooped down on the other. After a desperate struggle, our farmer concluded to relinquish the half of that, and give the other to the birds. No sooner had they finished the second section of the crop, than they insolently demanded the balance. A gallant stand was made by the farmer to save this, but his little force could do nothing against the legions of the invader. He finally thought he would save enough for seed, and retreated and took position on an acre, there resolved to 'do or die.'
It became a hand-to-hand fight, but while shotguns were firing, pans sounding, bells ringing, and sticks, whips, and bludgeons waving around the heads of the little urchins, the birds would swarm defiantly around them, light in their midst, and actually destroyed the last of his acre of wheat before his eyes, and in defiance of all his efforts."
----- Dallas Herald newspaper, 1858
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