Victor Emanuel [00:00:01] Well, the main thing that they meant to me was, here was a bird that in my bird book, it said, "possibly extinct." So for a bird watcher to see a bird that's extinct is not quite like seeing a dinosaur. It's like seeing something from way time past.
Victor Emanuel [00:00:15] And then reading about it, I knew that the Eskimo curlew had run the gauntlet, migrating north from Argentina. It had an interesting migration pattern like the golden plover does, that it, it bred only in northwestern Canada, where the only place nests were found, and only a few nests (but there were probably some in Alaska too). Then after breeding, it migrated across Canada, to Labrador, where it fed on these crowberries and put on a lot of weight so they could migrate all the way to Argentina without stopping.
Victor Emanuel [00:00:52] Audubon went there and saw flocks of them in Labrador: that's how much Audubon got around. He made it to Labrador and saw big flocks of Eskimo curlews.
Victor Emanuel [00:01:01] And it migrated all the way to Argentina, to the grasslands of Argentina, where it set for winter. And then, in the spring, it migrated North from Argentina. And came through Texas and the Great Plains on its way North. Well, as it was coming North through the Plains, so in Argentina, people were shooting them, for food. But also when it came through Texas and all through the Great Plains, more people were shooting it. Well, they had wagon loads of Eskimo curlews. And some people felt that after the passenger pigeon was pretty well eliminated, and eventually went extinct by men shooting it to sell the pigeons for markets, the next thing to go after was the Eskimo curlew. So that was another market bird that they could shoot and sell the Eskimo curlews in the markets. So it ran a gaunlet, going North.
Victor Emanuel [00:01:55] The other thing that's an interesting possibility is there was a grasshopper. It was abundant in the Great Plains when the Great Plains had grasslands. And the Eskimo curlews fed on that grasshopper as they migrated North and put on more weight and more fat so they could make it to Northwestern Canada.
Victor Emanuel [00:02:15] And what happens with a migratory bird if it's not getting food during its migration? It may not make it to its breeding grounds. That's what's happening with the red knot now, which used to be abundant on the Texas coast and on the East Coast. But it fed on the eggs of the horseshoe crab, and the horseshoe crabs have been eliminated so much that the knots are going way down, since they are not getting enough food on their migration.
Victor Emanuel [00:02:41] But I was aware of that. I was already very interested in conservation. And so I was aware of that as I was seeing this bird that was a bird from the past.