Press "Enter" to skip to content

Shorebird “Egging” – 1893

Source: The Brownsville Herald – March 3, 1893, p. 3

The millinery (hat feather) trade almost wiped out shorebirds in the 1800s, but I recently discovered an article that revealed another shocking attack on bird populations from the period. “Egging” was the practice of raiding large shorebird colonies for their eggs–thousands of which could be destroyed in one sweep.

“Egging” in years past has been a regular business on the Texas Coast. It is beginning to show results in a marked decrease in bird life.

The egg hunters would first destroy all of the eggs they found in the nests to ensure that none of them would spoil. Then when the birds returned to lay another clutch, they would move in and take all of the fresh eggs. Their targets for this were usually species such as gulls, terns and herons. Pelican nests were usually left alone because of the taste of the eggs, but they were usually killed for their feathers and skins instead. With such a blatant disregard for nature, it’s surprising that there are any birds left on the Texas coast.

I’m not sure about the “poison germs” spreading from excess fish though–it sounds like Mr. Parish still subscribed to the miasma theory of disease.

Share this:

Comments are closed.