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.
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.
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.
Interesting selections from animated nature, with illustrative scenery, designed and engraved by William Daniell. London : Cadell & Davies, 
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
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
Male plate 61
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
Select a blog
Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.
Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!
We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.
From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.
Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.
Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.
The Chagos archipelago is a rare haven for marine biodiversity. Hear from the team about our projects to protect the environments in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.
An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.