From Billions to Zero: An Anniversary of Extinction
Martha Passenger Pigeon
Woodblock engraving from The Illustrated Shooting and Dramatic News
Woodblock engraving from The Illustrated Shooting and Dramatic News (July 3, 1875)

Less than 150 years ago, the daytime skies of North America frequently turned dark, as incredible flocks of thousands—even millions—of passenger pigeons filled the skies.

 

At that time, passenger pigeons were the most abundant birds in North America, perhaps the world. Overhunted and their habitat diminished, the number of passenger pigeons plummeted to one—the last remaining passenger pigeon, named Martha, died in captivity over 100 years ago on September 1, 1914.