Ectopistes migratorius, John James Audubon
Knip, from Temmink
time the Passenger Pigeon was the most populous North American species
estimated to number more than three billion.
Huge flocks blackened the
skies for days along migration routes and
nested in colonies covering dozens of square miles.
Tens of thousands of birds
were commercially hunted each day and shipped in barrels east to
While thousands of Passenger
Pigeons survived the great hunts, a combination of conditions
contributed to the speciesí inability to recover.
Their birth rate was always
low as they usually laid just one egg. Deforestation and agriculture
changed their habitat. They were conditioned to huge nesting areas
containing hundreds of thousands of nests
A Group of Passenger Pigeons
from the Ornithological Work of Reichenbach's
Their must have been
incredible trauma when they were blasted from their breeding grounds
and sought new areas. Some flocks, already grossly reduced bred
further north where extreme weather may have affected mortality.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes
Jasper's Group of the Fourteen Wild Pigeons
from Studer's "The Birds of North America"