Extinct and Endangered Plants and Animals

When did the last passenger pigeon die?

At one time, 200 years ago, the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was the world’s most abundant bird. Although the species was found only in eastern North America, it had a population of three to five billion birds (25 percent of the North American land bird population). Over-hunting caused a chain of events that reduced their numbers below minimum threshold for viability. In the 1890s several states passed laws to protect the pigeon, but it was too late. The last known wild bird was shot in 1900. The last passenger pigeon, named Martha, died on September 1, 1914, in the Cincinnati Zoo. In a span of just 200 years the passenger pigeon passed from the world’s most abundant bird species into extinction.


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