Passenger pigeons: the story of the remarkable bird and its extinction


Hour 1

Guests: Joel Greenberg

Passenger pigeons once numbered in the billions in North America. Accounts from the 1800s report flocks so thick that they stretched 300 miles and blocked out the sun for days. But amazingly, passenger pigeons were driven to extinction in just forty years. In 1900, an Ohio boy shot the last wild passenger pigeon, and in 1914, the last captive pigeon, Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. Author and naturalist JOEL GREENBERG tells the story of these remarkable birds and their destruction in his book A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction. He spoke with Marty about his book this winter.

Photo: AP/Al Behrman

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