Tag Archives: Extinct birds

Passenger Pigeons an Extinct Species


Status =Extinct

Last sighting was in captivity in 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Biological Name: Ectopistes migratorius Biological Family: Columbiformes.

The last passenger pigeon was on display in the Smithsonian Museum.

They named her Martha. I saw her. I wept.

The last time the passenger pigeon was reported in the wild was in 1900 in Ohio.

Now that mades ME feel like I was robbed.

What is the Closest Relative to the Passenger Pigeon?
Believe it or not, the mourning dove, Zenaidura macroura, is the closest relative of the passenger pigeon.
How often I have seen this unassuming and often stupid bird without a single thought of those that flew before them.

Yes, Mourning Doves tend to act like they have no brains. Perhaps the passenger pigeons were no more quick witted then they were.I have observed morning doves being tricked by a roadrunner who captured and ate one of them (they were desert rock doves)
at a watering hole when pretending (literally PRETENDING) to drink. The roadrunner never took its eyes off the doves and NEVER
touched the water with its bill.
There were 5 doves and in a wink there were 4 with a flurry of feathers and a racing roadrunner carrying the now dead dove away from the water.The other doves glanced around and returned to drinking.I wondered if they even noticed the other one was missing. Did they see the floating feathers and know it was from their flock?

Don’t know. But if Passenger Pigeons were as bright as these doves, it is no wonder that people could easily take advantage of them. Homing and racing pigeons must be a LOT more intelligent than passenger pigeons were.

Natural History:

At one time the passenger pigeon was probably one of the most numerous birds in North America. We are talking about BILLIONS of birds. Colonial explorers spoke of seeing endless numbers of birds in flight during migrations. Even Cotton Mather described a flight that was about a mile wide and it lasted several hours flying over him. The abundance of the passenger pigeon may well have been the cause of its demise. People took advantage of their numbers and failed to look at issues of conservation until it was too late.

Passenger pigeon migrations ranged from central Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia south to the uplands of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Nesting areas in the Great Lakes region were common.

According to colonial naturalists:
“The habitat of the passenger pigeon was mixed hardwood forests.
The birds depended on the huge forests for their spring nesting sites,
for winter “roosts,” and for food. The mainstays of the passenger pigeon’s diet
were beechnuts, acorns, chestnuts, seeds, and berries found in the forests.
Worms and insects supplemented the diet in spring and summer.”

One significant result of the extinction of the passenger pigeon was

that it aroused public interest in the need for strong conservation laws.

It was the result of those laws that many other migratory birds have become protected.

© bydpb 2007