Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future


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Flights of Fancy:
Memoirs, Stories, Paintings, Poems

The story of the passenger pigeon has touched people since the first written description by Cartier back in 1534. They were astounded by the vast numbers of the bird and the effects those legions had on the world they impacted. Some people found the huge flocks joyous things, while others were frightened, and a few saw impending misfortune when the birds appeared.

Beyond the bird itself, what human beings did in their relentless pursuit and slaughter of the species were noted and commented on. And we today continue to wrestle with questions of extinction, our relationship with nature, and how to take from nature in ways that do not result in impoverishment.

Posted in his section are the contributions by readers who have been moved by the legacy of the passenger pigeon, are personally engaged by the mysteries and beauty of the natural world, and have thoughts to share on these pages.

David Coates
David is a native of Australia who has been living in the US for a short while. He did not know about passenger pigeons until he attended an exhibit at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago called "Nature's Struggle: Survival and Extinction." He was captivated by the story and was moved to write this poem.
(The Poem)

Tom Crawford
This poem, 1914, The Cincinnati Zoo, was written specifically for Project Passenger Pigeon. It has not previously been published.
(The Poem)

Ed Dvorak, Jr.
River of the Sky, a short story that takes place in 1897-98, when there was hope of the passenger pigeon's survival. A Civil War veteran tells the young listener of what it was like in the heyday of the passenger pigeon.
(The Story)

Garrie Landry
Holding a lifelong interest in passenger pigeons, when the opportunity arose to acquire one of his own, Garrie made the leap and a dream came true. But he wanted to learn more about his new acquisition, George, and this is the story of that search.
(The Story)

Ben Novak
The story of the passenger pigeon has affected many people over the years. This memoir tells of how Ben became entranced by this bird and how it led him to his current research into passenger pigeon genetics.
(The Memoir)

Violet Schramm
This is the story behind Violet's award winning video, The Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and the Death of Martha: A Turning Point in Conservation as well as the link to the video..
(The Story)

David Staley
This poem, One and Then Another, has appeared in an earlier version in the Akros Review. (The Poem)

Perry Stambaugh
Perry Stambaugh tells the story of the passenger pigeon, with an emphasis on the bird in Pennsylvania. This was originally published in the April 2005 issue of Penn Lines magazine. He is the Senior Director and Editor of RE Magazine and Straight Talk, published in Arlington, Virginia.
(The Article) [PDF]

Amy Timberlake
Amy tells how the great passenger pigeon nesting of 1871 inspired her to write her latest novel, One Came Home.
(The Story)

Pepper Trail
This poem, Audubon’s Passenger Pigeons, is not previously published. The poem describes Audubon’s famous painting of the Passenger Pigeons from Birds of North America.
(The Poem)

Sherrida Woodley
Her story describes why she chose the mysterious passenger pigeon as a major subject of her novel, A Quick Fall of Light.
(The Story)

Contributions on subjects related to the legacy of the Passenger Pigeon and species sustainability are welcome for consideration as additions to this section. It should be understood that material submitted to us by email attachment for website posting is subject to review for acceptance at the discretion of the website's editors.

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