When passenger pigeons filled Michigan skies

Mar 6, 2014

Seven passenger pigeons from the aviary at the University of Chicago, 1896.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Later this year, we mark the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon---the last being a resident of a Cincinatti zoo.  The well-publicized event capped the annihilation of a species whose population at one point was so overwhelming that one ornithologist believed there were more passenger pigeons than all other species combined. 

Efforts to bring the population under control began back in the mid 19th century, in part because enormous flocks wreaked havoc on trees and farms.

Passenger pigeons were a common sight in Michigan in those years.  Ann Arbor writer, author and birder Bill Loomis recently wrote about the extraordinary Michigan history of the passenger pigeon for the Detroit News.