The Passenger Pigeon

Bradley Bogdan

I'm here to tell a sad story about one of the most populous species on the planet. It was the most amazing bird ever to have been seen by humans, and it is gone. This amazing bird was the Passenger Pigeon or ectopistes migratorius. They lived in flocks of millions and sometimes billions! The sky would be dark for days and the sky would be alive with the hum of millions of wings passing overhead. But that is all gone now, thanks to Corporate America. The last Passenger Pigeon died in captivity in 1914, her name was Martha. To gain a small picture of a flock of passenger pigeons think about a huge flock of starlings. Now multiply that by 100 and there you go.

The Passenger Pigeon covered a huge part of North America touching Mexico and Hudson Bay. Even though they traveled to these places the preferred the Temperate Forests of the Eastern United states. The flocks frequently visited NY and the rest of New England. The flocks would wander America in search of food. This migration of sorts was not really affected by the seasons as opposed to the vast need for food. The flight pattern was always to the next food source and they would rest (in trees) only to breed, eat and sleep. They needed the large forests to have enough room for the flock to rest in the trees. They could survive temperatures to 40 degrees Fahrenheit below and up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (though it never got that high).

The Passenger Pigeon was active during the day and slept at night. They would nest in the high branches of trees and lay 2 eggs but only 1 chick would survive. The birds did not have a mating season.The nests are flimsy and made out of twigs. The mother incubates the eggs and the male gathers food. The Pigeons liked foods like acorns, berries, and nuts. The young are fed and taught to fly and then left.

The Passenger Pigeons had many adaptations to help them survive. The first being the egg. An egg is an amazingly strong protector of young. It is strong enough to protect the baby from bumps, yet soft enough for the baby to get out. It also keeps the babies fed and happy. I inferred that another adaptation is their brown/gray coloring because it would cause them all to blend together while flying and camouflage them while in trees. This didn't work very well against humans though since there were so many birds there. The third adaptation is that they fly in huge flocks. This is advantage because they are able to chase of hawks and other bids of prey by flying at them. This worked only sometimes though because the hawk might be quick enough to get one and not be noticed until it was on its way. Another adaptation is their ability to fly. This allows them to get to new food sources faster. I infer that their best adaptation was their beaks. The beaks are extremely strong and are able to crack Walnuts.

The Passenger Pigeon was the worst example of human error. They were killed by the thousands by companies who sold there meat for a cent per birds worth. There were some attempts to bring them to England but that did not work. The entire population of about 5 billion was wiped out in about 100 years.

Thought of the Day:"When a (Passenger Pigeon) is seen gliding through the woods and close to the observer, it passes like a thought, and on trying to see it again, the eye searches in vain; the bird is gone." John J. Audubon, on the Passenger Pigeon.

1. / Garrie Landry / 2000
2. On The Passenger Pigeons By: John James Audubon,1813
3. / ?/ 2001
4. / ?/ 1998
5. John Herald / Martha (song name)/ 1978

I am a 7th grader a Mount Saint Joseph Academy. Buffalo, NY

Bradley Bogdan