Passenger Pigeon

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image: passengerpigeon.jpg

Common Name: Passenger Pigeon

Scientific Name: Ectopistes migartorus

Size: 15-16 inches (38-40cm)

Habitat: North America; throughout the United States and Canada; East of the Rockies.

Status: Extinct. Global Population: 0. Extinction due to loss of habitat and hunting by humans. Reduced colony sizes enabled predation by other species to bring the species to extinction.

Diet: Acorns, various types of nuts, some fruits, berries, grain and small insects

Breeding: Nests were loosely constructed of small sticks and twigs and approximately one foot in diameter. A single, white, elongated egg was laid per nesting. Both parents shared the duties of incubating the egg and feeding the young. The incubation period was from twelve to fourteen days.

Cool Facts: One the most populous bird in the world (estimated 5 billion birds) would within sixty years go extinct, entirely due to human intervention.

In written accounts given by those who actually saw the Passenger Pigeon flocks, “Beech tree limbs sagged as the colony crowded on slender branches. The largest colony that nested in Wisconsin as said to have at least 135 million adults and covered over 850 square miles. When the flock took off, the day would turn to night with a black cloud of birds, two to three miles across and forty miles long flew to its next destination at up to 60 mph.”

They spent their springs and summers in the great deciduous forests of Montana, Southern Ontario and Nova Scotia and migrated to the Deep South (United States) in the winter. The hunters who sold the meat to markets brought on their decline to extinction. In 1878 in Michigan, 50,000 birds per day were killed for nearly five months. Eventually, the taste of Passenger Pigeon became passé and the commercial hunting operations ceased. The pigeon went into final decline because their flocks, weakened in numbers, were easy meals for other predators and factors such as habitat loss. The last Passenger Pigeon, “Martha”, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

Found in Songbird ReMix Threatened Endangered Extinct 1

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