Posted by: Nancy | September 1, 2010

Why Birders Cry on Sept. 1

Will we ever learn?

This is from my friend Bill Ashworth, who writes a daily notice of things from the world of science:

Martha, a pigeon, died on Sep. 1, 1914.

Named after Martha Washington, Martha the pigeon had lived at the Cincinnati Zoo for 29 years.

She was the last of her species, and when she joined the choir invisible, the world suffered perhaps its most famous extinction.  For Martha was a passenger pigeon.

Martha, the last passenger pigeon, from permanent display at the Cincinnati Zoo


Once her kind had darkened the American skies and numbered in the billions.  Now, unthinkably, the billions had been reduced to one, and then to zero.

Upon her demise, Martha was frozen in ice and shipped to the Smithsonian, where she was stuffed and put on display, as a reminder of the peril of unchecked plundering of our natural resources.

But now Martha has been removed to some shelf in the bowels of the museum, so I guess we don’t need reminding any more.


Additional info:

Passenger Pigeon — includes Audubon’s estimate of the numbers and the sport of shooting passenger pigeons.

Passenger Pigeon extinction and massacre

Click to go to the Passenger Pigeon Society

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