The Passenger Pigeon was
once one of the most numerous birds in North America. From the 1600s
through early 1800s, people wrote of flocks that filled the sky as far as they
eye could see, with some individual flocks estimated at over 2 billion birds. However, the Passenger Pigeon was driven to extinction by
uncontrolled commercial hunting for their meat. Due to their tendency to
both migrate and breed in large dense flocks, they were easy targets for
hunters, who often used large mesh nets to catch them by the thousands. By
1880, there were no longer enough birds for hunting to be commercially
profitable, and the species was largely left on its own to recover.
Although several thousand birds were left at that time, populations continued to
plummet. It was thought their strong communal nature made them much less
effective breeders when populations were thin and dispersed. The last wild
specimens were collected at the beginning of the 20th century, and the last bird
of the species died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. Note the photo
to the right is of a mounted specimen.
Habitat: Primary nesting sites were mixed
hardwood forests around the Great Lakes region. They also used forest
areas as roosts in the winter.
Diet: Fed primarily on seeds, acorns,
fruits, and berries, and quickly learned to take advantage of planted grain
crops. They also were known to feed on insects and worms.
Breeding: Was an occasional breeder in South Dakota.
Migration: The primary breeding areas were the Great Lakes
region east through New England, and southeastern Canada. Wintering
grounds were primarily from Arkansas east to North Carolina, and southward to
the Gulf Coast.
Status: Extinct. The last bird died in the
Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
Institution -- Passenger Pigeon
3) Ecotopia --
Image Information: Colored pencil drawing by Terry
Sohl - September 2012