Flight of the Passenger Pigeon

Painting of the Passenger Pigeon,  Ectopistes migratorius,  by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874–1927). Juvenile (left), male (center), female (right). Image from Wikimedia Commons.
Painting of the Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius, by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874–1927). Juvenile (left), male (center), female (right). Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Join us on February 20 for a book talk with naturalist and author Joel Greenberg.  In the early 19th century up to 40 percent of North America’s birds were passenger pigeons, traveling in flocks so massive as to block out the sun for days. Although billions of passenger pigeons once populated the continent, they became extinct in 1914 when the last of the species, Martha, died in captivity.  Joel’s new book, A Feathered River Across the Sky, relates in gripping detail how the pigeons’ propensity to stay together in vast numbers made them vulnerable to unremitting market and recreational hunting.  Joel will highlight many of the human stories that were intertwined with that of the pigeon, as well as explain how the story of the passenger pigeon provides a cautionary tale of what happens when species are not harvested sustainably.

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