OBJECT OF THE MONTH - December, 2005

Passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorious)

Passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius, Family Columbidae). UCM-8238/UCM-8245.

No longer seen alive

The Passenger pigeon is now extinct. Primarily, over hunting and clearing of forests to make way for agriculture doomed the species. The decline was well under way by the 1850's. The last nesting birds were reported in the Great Lakes region in the 1890's. Some individuals remained in captivity. The last Passenger Pigeon, named Martha, died alone at the Cincinnati Zoo at about 1:00 pm on September 1, 1914.
"Passenger pigeons represent lost biodiversity. We can only see specimens of Passenger Pigeons in museums, because there are none left to see in the wild. Museums remind us that we are currently in the midst of a devastating extinction event on par with the largest events faced in the history of life on earth."
- Robert Guralnick, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology
University of Colorado Museum of Natural History