Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Passenger Pigeon
Great Auk
The Dodo, Passenger Pigeon, and Great Auk are three birds that everyone on this planet should know about. Unfortunately, we can only read about them because all three are extinct and we were the sole cause. One of my favorite bird books is The Great Book of Birds by John Gooders. Below are words taken from Mr. Gooders about these lost treasures.

Dodo is a classic. This giant flightless pigeon was first discovered in 1599 and thereafter was hunted for food by mariners. By 1681 they were extinct. (That’s less than 100 years!!)

Perhaps no story of man’s senseless slaughter matches that of the extermination of the Passenger Pigeon. No doubt when the first white men arrived in American, the Passenger Pigeon was the most numerous bird on earth. Breeding colonies could often be measured in miles. By the middle of the 19th century thousands of hunters earned their living from shooting the birds. Within a couple of generations the flocks were no more. Martha, the last captive female died in Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
The Great Auk of the North Atlantic was exterminated by sailors in 1844. This flightless, 30 inch bird was the northern equivalent of the penguins. It was a welcome item of food to scurvy-ridden sailors on long voyages.
Education and compassion are the only things that can keep this from happening in the future.