San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Echoes of their Wings: The Life and Legacy of the Passenger Pigeon
An illustrated presentation and book signging
Joel Greenberg, Field Museum and the Passenger Pigeon Project
On September 1, 1914 the world’s last passenger pigeon, Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. How did this species, once the most abundant bird in North America and possibly the world, disappear so rapidly?
Unlike any other bird, the passenger pigeon likely numbered in the billions and often formed vast, unimaginable aggregations. Single flights were estimated to exceed a billion birds--John James Audubon described a flight that darkened the sky for three days. In 1871 their nesting spread across an 850 square mile span of central Wisconsin. Despite this abundance, exploitation of these birds for food and recreation destroyed the species in the wild by the first few years of the twentieth century. Joel Greenberg will explore the fascinating story of the passenger pigeon, highlighting the important lessons it presents to us today in the 21st century.
Palumbus migratorius. The pigeon of passage. Red oak. From: The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands / by Mark Catesby. London : 1731-43.
Joel Greenberg has over 25 years experience working on natural resource related issues in the Chicago area. He is a Research Associate of both the Chicago Academy of Sciences Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Field Museum and has taught courses on natural history at various institutions including the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanical Gardens. Greenberg’s current work centers on the passenger pigeon—he is the author of the book A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction (Bloomsbury USA, January 2014) and is working with David Mrazek to create a documentary on the bird. These projects are major elements of Project Passenger Pigeon, an international effort to use the centenary of the bird’s extinction in 2014 as a teachable moment to familiarize people with this remarkable species and to highlight lessons learned about extinction, resource management, and building sustainable relationships with other species.
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