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Accounts of e X tinct Species. Passenger Pigeon ( Ectopistes migratorius ). (Rest in peace, Martha!). Distribution. the passenger pigeon lived in the eastern U.S. and was found from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. a short-distance migrant, birds from far

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Presentation Transcript
slide2

Passenger Pigeon

(Ectopistes migratorius)

(Rest in peace, Martha!)

slide3

Distribution

the passenger pigeon

lived in the eastern

U.S. and was found

from Canada to the

Gulf of Mexico

a short-distance migrant, birds from far

northern climates wintered in the south

slide6

Description

large pigeon with a long

pointed tail

gray upper, with tip of

wings and tail black

throat and breast rust-colored

red-colored eyes

females dull brown-colored, with black eyes

slide7

passenger pigeons

placed their nests in

trees, 8-50 ft. from the

ground

laid one to two eggs per clutch

nested in colonies which

sometimes occupied

hundreds of square miles

slide8

passenger pigeons

were once so numerous

that when they migrated,

it was estimated that

more than a billion birds

passed in flocks miles long which lasted for days

as John James Audubon noted of the flocks

“the air was literally filled with pigeons…”

“the light of noonday was obscured as by eclipse;

the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes

of snow”

slide9

this bird was seemingly

so overabundant that

no one ever thought

that there could possibly

be a shortage of them

both the eggs and the flesh were favored foods

because the pigeons nested in huge colonies

where food was plentiful, they were easy prey

Wilson (1814) reported “Wagon loads of them are

poured into market…and pigeons are the order of

the day at breakfast, lunch, dinner, until the very

name becomes sickening.”

slide10

rampant over-harvesting for both food and sport took place

as the turn of the century

approached, vast amounts

of forested land were cleared, for timber,

towns, railroads, and agriculture

as the railroad systems expanded in the 1850’s,

more and more birds could be easily shipped

into the increasing city markets

slide11

as the turn of the century

approached, vast amounts

of forested land were

cleared, for timber, towns,

railroads, and agriculture

enormous numbers of chestnut and oak trees,

the main food source of the pigeons, were

destroyed

furthermore, as granivores, they were seen as

an agricultural pest, and destroyed in large

numbers by farmers

slide12

the negative synergistic

whole of all these events

took its toll on the

passenger pigeon

the last major pigeon nestings occurred near

the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in 1881

and in Wisconsin in 1882

small flocks and pairs continued to nest into the

1900’s, free from commercial persecution

however, the passenger pigeon could not

sustain itself at these drastically reduced

numbers

slide13

the last legitimate record of a wild passenger pigeon was in 1900 in Ohio

this bird was shot and its remains are in the Ohio State Museum

in 1909, the Cinncinnati Zoological gardens had

only 3 birds remaining two males and one female

on 1September, 1914, the last passenger

pigeon, “Martha”, died in the Cinncinnati Zoo

slide14

If the land mechanism as a whole is good,

then every part is good, whether we

understand it or not. If the biota,

in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts?

To keep every cog and wheel

is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

- Aldo Leopold, 1953