Once there were a billion passenger pigeons
So many flew by, they darkened the sky
But they were clubbed and shot
Netted, Gassed, and Burned
Until there was nothing left
But vines of empty nests
I can't believe how easily
A billion birds can disappear - Handsome Family "Passenger Pigeons
The Passenger Pigeons story is as tragic as that of its hapless, flightless relative, the Dodo.
It began as a success story - the most abundant bird in North America, accounting for more than 25% of the total bird population across the continent. Yet, within 50 years, the entire population consisted of one bird, Martha, in the Cincinnati Zoo. She died on September 1, 1914 and with her came extinction. The Passenger Pigeon was an extremely social bird, travelling in vast flocks and leading a nomadic, migratory existence. His preferred diet was the seeds of beech and oak trees, and during the mast seeding seasons, the population boomed. Deforestation likely contributed to their abrupt decline. They were also massacred: adults shot in flight, fledglings killed on the nest, nesting sites destroyed. Such a full-scale slaughter caused a dramatic decline in the population.
So saying, there is still some hope for the Passenger Pigeon, it is considered a candidate for de-extinction/cloning and there are still a few folks in various parts of the eastern US that claim to have seen this reasonably large, pink bellied pigeon. So, who knows, she might make a comeback yet.