Martha’s Day

3 September 2021 0 By Bambam

On 1 September 1914, between midday and 1 pm, in the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cincinnati, Ohio, a pigeon breathed her last, and with her died her species.

The pigeon was known as Martha, and the species was the Passenger Pigeon. Amongst all extinctions, this example remains unusual in two respects: the precision with which the timing is known and the overwhelming abundance of the species just a few decades earlier – for, just a few decades before Martha died, the Passenger Pigeon was the commonest bird on Earth.

Those are the first two paragraphs of my book on the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.

I think of the Passenger Pigeon often, but always on this day of the year.


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