Passenger Pigeons bred in large colonies, with up to 100 nests in a single tree.
Nesting colonies could cover from 30 up to 850 square miles of forest. The nest was
loosely made of small twigs. Generally, one egg was laid and incubated by both parents.
Both parents tended the chick, and after about 2 weeks, the chick, still unable to fly,
would be abandoned. The entire flock would depart, and the chicks would drop to the
ground. After a few days, the chicks would begin to fly and to care for themselves (Fuller
The Passenger Pigeon is now extinct. Over hunting, the clearing of forests to make way
for agriculture, and perhaps other factors doomed the species. The decline was well under
way by the 1850s.
The last nesting birds were reported in the Great Lakes region in the 1890s. The
last reported individuals in the wild were shot at Babcock, Wisconsin in 1899, and in Pike
County, Ohio on March 24, 1900. Some individuals, however, remained in captivity.
The last Passenger Pigeon, named Martha, died alone at the Cincinnati Zoo at about 1:00
pm on September 1, 1914. Who could have dreamed that within a few decades, the once most
numerous bird on Earth would be forever gone?
Fuller, E. 1987. Extinct Birds. Facts On File Publications, New York, NY. 256 Pp.
Schorger, A. W. 1955. The Passenger Pigeon. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison WI.
Weidensaul, S. 1991. The Birders Miscellany. Simon & Schuster, New York, NY.
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