Book Review: “The Passenger Pigeon”

“The Passenger Pigeon” by author Errol Fuller

(Pub. September 29th, 2014 – Princeton University Press)


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“Reading about extinction of any species always made me shake my head in disbelieve when happened naturally. However, when I read this book by Errol Fuller about Passenger Pigeon, being once the most abundant bird in America that amounted to almost 4 billion individuals! Got to the point of no return, total extinction caused by human mass extermination. Mr. Fuller describes the pigeon’s origins and habits, their occurrence and general distribution in the North American territory and gives an ample history of these species through chronological eras. This book has plenty of photographs and illustrations throughout.

The most impact to me was reading the chapter: Extinction: The Causes. The beginning of the end for these birds was initiated by the invasion of Europeans and the colonization of North America. From there on Mr. Fuller describes step by step in detail the poignant systematic demise of the Passenger Pigeon. I’m honest to say that this chapter impressed me by the greed and escalation in brutality of people from that era in order to kill more and more pigeons.

At the end of that deplorable frenzy all was left were a handful of birds, which reduced the count later to sadly…one single Passenger Pigeon named Martha!”

Book review by H.J. Ruiz – Avian101 – September 2014

20 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Passenger Pigeon”

  1. The same could be said of the near extinction of the American Bison that once roamed North America in the millions and were killed to where only a few remained. Sometimes the things that we as a human race do can only make you hang your head and wonder where we are headed.

    • In the case of the American Bison something was done in order to prevent their total demise and now I happy to know that are thousands in existence. But this Passenger Pigeon wasn’t that lucky. Very sad! Thanks so much for your interesting comment! 🙂

  2. Thanks for the post, HJ….it truly is sad to know the way humans exploit these wonderful creatures, big or small to satiate their own greed. Hope wisdom has prevailed now that there are a lot of initiatives being taken to spread environmental awareness about how the extinction of any species directly impacts human existence somewhere down the line. Truly hope so.

    • This is one of the reasons why I post about birds, I want people to get familiar with them and learn to love them, maybe that way extinctions may stop.
      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment and support. I appreciate your wisdom and kind heart very much. 🙂 ❤

    • I do what I can and feel better when I get the support of caring people such as you and others. You help me keep going!
      Thank you very much dear Jet! 🙂 ❤

  3. It is a shame isn’t it. I remember watching an animal planet special on what happened to the passenger pigeons and they said something about the being one of the most dramatic extinctions ever witnessed.

    Have you heard about the history of Easter Island? It was said that at one point this island held the widest variety of birds in the western hemisphere but deforestation caused that to change. Interesting story and you can see a few films about it made by the smithsonian on YouTube.

    Anyway hope you have a nice weekend HJ. Thanks for the book review.

    • I wish all people were as concerned as you about events that could cause animal extinctions or potential destruction of a natural habitat. Thanks MD for mentioning these cases. 🙂

  4. A true black spot on the history of America, that’s for sure. When I read about the past and the horrors inflicted upon the animals of the world by greedy humans, it makes me hang my head in shame. I am glad that sensible minds finally prevailed and began putting limits on hunting, etc, but unfortunately it was too late for so many species. Mankind has proven he cannot be trusted to steward the earth properly – to think we nearly decimated the beaver, the bison, the elk not to mention what we’ve done to the forests and polluting our waters. Sad. Thanks for this review, H.J.

    • What you just said is exactly correct, greed, deception, ignorance and disdain are taking us to the wrong paths into the labyrinth of chaos where we’ll have a bad time before we get out. I just hope that we’ll never get to that point, for our family’s sake.
      Thank you very much Amy for your interesting words! 🙂

  5. Excellent review HJ. This is such an emotive issue that I could spend the whole evening writing a response. Birds are still being killed in the UK. There is hardly a single mammal that doesn’t need to be shot over here and they are shot, supposedly to protect the environment and other animals that live here and to address the mistakes that nature can’t handle. For example Deer must be managed, everybody knows that, they destroy young trees (as do Rabbits and Squirrels) and yet before man arrived here 85% of the UK was wooded and full of animals who didn’t destroy it. Since we took over the management it has dropped to two per cent of the UK is still ancient woodland. We are supposed to believe that the animals did it and it is only thanks to the brave men who patrol our woods shooting animals that we have any left at all. If there were no men in the world it would quickly go back to the way it was intended. Animals very plainly do not destroy woodland at all but they interfere with maximising our profit. Other animals are killed just because you can get money for them, £6.50 a kilo for unbutchered Boar around here, Beaver furs and Bison in your countries past. It is always money but we like to pretend we are killing them for some other reason. Well, you know how I feel. Good post my friend 🙂

    • You are 100% right my friend, it’s happening all over the world, greed and idiocy is doing away with wilderness. It’s a sad reality. We need to educate people to preserve Nature as is without destroying lives of any kind. I’m very happy to have heard your opinion Colin. I know how much you care for wilderness. I admire that and appreciate it. I wish more people read these comments and join us to care more for Nature’s creatures. Thank you my friend! 🙂

  6. I’m just at the tail end of a book written by Benjamin Long, “Back Tracking: Along the Lewis and Clark Trail”. The author and his wife travel along the route Lewis and Clark traversed, checking on the current state of species compared to then. The passenger pigeon only gets a brief mention, there were billions of them in North America and they were an important food source during the 1800s. With bison, I was astounded to learn that it took a mere 15 years to go from tens of millions to a mere 300 breeding adults. By the end of the 1800s, the 60 million pronghorn were down to only 13,000, but they have been pulled back from extinction, too. It is an extremely interesting book. I understand your distress reading, blow by blow, about the extinction of the passenger pigeon in such a greedy, systematic way. I’ll give that book a miss.

    • Thank you very much for bringing those facts up, I want other readers to know how sad and how low human society can get when it comes to animals.
      I just hope that it will never happen again. Thanks again Christine for sharing! 🙂

    • The common denominator for these books is EXTINCTION, which is a bad word in my book. We should never allow any creature to get extinct in our world.
      Thank you Lisa for sharing! 🙂

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