Wednesday, September 01, 2010

So Goes The Passenger Pigeon So Go We

Today in 1914 Martha, the last surviving Passenger Pigeon died about 1:00 pm on September 1, 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo, the species having been commercially hunted to extinction.

The Passenger Pigeon, which numbered once in the tens of billions, lived in North America east of the Rocky Mountains.

Their flocks, a mile wide and up to 300 miles long, were so dense that they covered the entire sky for hours as the flock passed overhead.

Population estimates from the 19th century ranged from 1 billion to close to 4 billion individuals.

Total populations could well have reached 5 billion individuals and the passenger pigeon comprised about 40% of the total number of birds in North America

This may be the only species in the entire world for which the exact time of extinction is known down to the moment it happened

Passenger Pigeons

Slowly the passenger pigeons increased, then suddenly their numbers

Became enormous, they would flatten ten miles of forest

When they flew down to roost, & the cloud of their rising

Eclipsed the dawns. They became too many, they are all dead

Not one remains...

— Robinson Jeffers

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