In the year 1800, more than five billion passenger pigeons crisscrossed the skies of the eastern United States and Canada. Passing flocks could darken the skies for three days straight. John James Audubon reflected in his writing on the passenger pigeon that “the multitudes … are so astonishing” that “I even now feel inclined to pause and assure myself that what I am going to relate is fact.” However, in the face of relentless slaughter for food and recreation, coupled with habitat loss, this seemingly inexhaustible resource was depleted in just a few decades. By 1900 the species was virtually extinct, and by mid-afternoon of September 1, 1914, Martha, the last of her species, died in the Cincinnati Zoo.
In commemoration of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, JCSM presents an exhibition devoted to the passenger pigeon, to other bird species that have vanished forever, and to the poignant lessons of loss pointed out by the power of art.
The Auburn University Museum of Natural History and Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Sciences and Mathematics generously partnered with JCSM for this collaborative exhibition.
Attend one of JCSM’s fall programs thematically connected to this exhibition.