Extinct Happens

What can we learn from the story of the Passenger Pigeon?

One hundred years ago, the Passenger Pigeon became extinct – the last one, a bird named Martha, closing the book in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

How could this possibly happen to a species once so populous that it could darken the skies for hours on end, building nesting colonies so huge they would break the branches of old-growth forests?

Join Geauga Park District for this important cautionary story on extinction and its lessons for wildlife conservation as told by Harvey Webster, director of Wildlife Resources at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

What: The Life, Times and Demise of the Passenger Pigeon

When: Tuesday, May 20 – 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: The West Woods Nature Center
9465 Kinsman Road (Rt. 87), Russell Township

Once the most abundant bird in North America, the Passenger Pigeon very much depended on eastern old-growth forests for its consumption of tree seeds, or mast, and settled nesting colonies several square miles wide in those areas, with at least one in Geauga County.

“But between the deforestation and conversion to agriculture, the main habitat and food source was eliminated,” Senior Naturalist Dan Best explained. “They’d been hunted for food by the Indians and pioneers, but in the latter part of the 1800s, with the railroads and telegraph established, large flocks of people would converge for the hunt, bringing down dozens with one shotgun blast.

“Market demand was also very high in large metropolitan areas, kind of like the bush meat problem now in Africa. These hunters would actually zero in on the last flocks.”

Webster is a very eloquent speaker sure to present an intriguing, spellbinding program.

The Blackbrook Audubon Society, co-presenting the program, will hold a short meeting at 7 p.m. prior to Webster’s presentation. Registration is not required. The West Woods Nature Center is wheelchair/stroller accessible. Call 440-286-9516 with questions.

Geauga News
Author: Geauga News