The passenger pigeon

by Ann Sylph on

Martha, the last passenger pigeon died in Cincinnati Zoo on 1 September 1914. At the start of the nineteenth century it is thought that the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird on the planet.


According to Catesby’s (1720s) eyewitness account they were seen in huge numbers `In Virginia I have seen fly in such continued trains three days successively, that there was not the least interval in loosing sight of them...’

Tragically, almost two centuries later,  they became extinct.

Passenger pigeon

American ornithology or, the natural history of the United States, by Alexander Wilson.  Volume V. Philadelphia : Bradford and Inskeep, 1812.
Passenger pigeon, Blue mountain warbler and hemlock.

Passenger pigeon

The birds of America, from drawings made in the United States and their territories, by John James Audubon. Volume 5. Plate 265. New York :  Lockwood, 1839. 

Passenger pigeon

Interesting selections from animated nature, with illustrative scenery, designed and engraved by William Daniell. London :  Cadell & Davies, [1809] 

Passenger pigeon

Vorstellung der Vögel in Deutschland, und beiläufig auch einiger fremden, nach ihren Eigenschaften beschrieben von Johann Leonhard Frisch; in Kupfer gebracht, und nach ihren naturlichen Farben dargestellt von Ferdinand Helfreich Frisch. Berlin :  Nicolai, 1817. Plate 142

Passenger pigeon

Les pigeons par Madame Knip, neé Pauline de Courcelles. - 2e éd. Tome 1 : Le texte par C.J. Temminck. Paris :  Knip, [1808-43] Female  plate 60  

Passenger pigeon

Male plate 61 

Passenger pigeon, extinct c. 1914

North America.The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, containing the figures of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents, insects and plants... together with their descriptions in English and French... by Mark Catesby. London : printed at the expense of the author, 1731-43


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