As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

2014: the year of the passenger pigeon

Spare a thought for Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who passed away 100 years ago

Name: Martha
Species: Ectopistes migratorius
Dates: ?–1914
Claim to fame: The last individual of her species
Go visit: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

In the middle of the 19th century, the passenger pigeon was by far the most common bird in the United States, if not the world. It was a species that flocked in mind-boggling numbers, seemingly endless clouds of densely packed birds darkening the skies for hours, sometimes days.

One of the most striking accounts of this phenomenon was recorded by Major W Ross King, who witnessed “an extraordinary flock of birds” in the vicinity of Niagara in 1860.

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