Lost Forever/Animals We’ll Never See Again: Passenger Pigeon

From a conservation point of view, looking to the past is as important as looking to the future. Reminiscing about the past can help humankind to ensure that the same fate doesn’t happen to other species.

3780971_orig.jpgThis installment of Lost Forever is looking at the decline of the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorious). What’s unique about the downfall of this species is that the Passenger Pigeon was once one of the world’s most abundant bird species. The Passenger Pigeon was once found in the forests of Canada and the USA and they occasionally wandered further south in Mexico and Cuba. This species was nomadic; breeding and foraging in vast flock compromised of millions of birds. They nested in between the months of April and May and were classed as a Full Migrant.


Records suggest that the last wild bird was shot in 1900; while the last captive bird died in 1914 in Cincinnati Zoo. There is no solid evidence about what factor was to blame for the rapid decline of the Passenger Pigeon but there were several at play. The widespread clearance of hardwood trees drastically reduced the food for the pigeons, young birds were taken from the wild and sold, there was excessive shooting of individuals and Newcastle disease could also have been to blame. More than likely the rapid decline was a combination of all these factors interacting with one another to have a dramatic effect of the survival of the Passenger Pigeon.


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