2014 marks the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon – once the most abundant bird species in North America, if not the world. In the year 1800, more than five billion passenger pigeons crisscrossed the skies of the eastern United States and Canada. Passing flocks could darken the skies for three days straight. However, in the face of relentless slaughter for food and recreation, coupled with habitat loss, this seemingly inexhaustible resource was depleted in just a few decades. The “last grand nesting” of Passenger Pigeons known occurred near Petoskey in 1878, blanketing a region 40 miles long and three to ten miles wide. By 1900 the species was virtually extinct, and by mid-afternoon of September 1, 1914, Martha, the last of her species, died in the Cincinnati Zoo.
Project Passenger Pigeon will mark this anniversary and promote the conservation of species and habitat, strengthen the relationship between people and nature, and foster the sustainable use of natural resources. Explore this site for more information about these amazing birds, the broader themes of Project Passenger Pigeon, upcoming project activities, and ways you can participate.