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Passenger Pigeons and Bird Fest 2014

Posted on May 15, 2014

One hundred years ago this year, Martha – the last of the Passenger Pigeons – died at the Cincinnati Zoo. This may once have been the most abundant bird in North America but was effectively extinct in the wild around the turn of the 20th century with only few sad survivors remaining in captivity. Roger Tory Peterson never saw one in the wild but did illustrate the species for his first guide in 1934. As was the case with most of his illustrations he used museum specimens as models. Twan took the following photos of the Passenger Pigeon mount and study skins, Meet Your Neighbours style, that are now part of Peterson’s collection (curated at RTPI) which he acquired from commercial collectors.

Passenger Pigeon

Passenger Pigeon 2

Passenger Pigeon mount


As you may be able to see on the tags these birds were collected in the late 1800s in Massachusetts. They are currently on display on the second floor of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. To learn more about the amazing story of the Passenger Pigeon come see author Joel Greenberg on June 6 during Roger Tory Peterson Bird Fest 2014!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator