Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future



Martha, the last passenger pigeon, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in Sept., 1914



Your Own Project Idea Center

P3 or P3-Related Event Ideas For Adoption

For anyone considering participating in Project Passenger Pigeon, the possibilities are almost endless. Here are a list of projects for events or activities that we have been working on and hope that some or all of these are adopted as an activity by appropriate organizations or groups. Use the available links for further information, email us if you have questions or where more information is needed.

List of P3 Event/Activity Suggestions

caretAn Origami Flight of the Passenger Pigeons
To celebrate the millennium in 2000, the City of Toronto commissioned the Waterfront Trail Artists to work with the city’s school children in various art projects. One effort involved passenger pigeons, where the kids studied the bird and made origami passenger pigeons. But the really exciting outreach component was that this work culminated in the “Flight of the Passenger Pigeons” whereby hundreds of children marched along Lake Shore Boulevard proudly holding their birds aloft. Few events would be more effective in drawing a wide audience to the passenger pigeon story and themes of P3.
(For more detailed information on Toronto's event, email P3)

caretSymphonic Ode to the American Wild Passenger Pigeon
Anthony Philip Heinrich was the first full time symphony composer in the United States: he earned the appellation “America’s Beethoven.” He lived in a cabin for a year in the woods of Kentucky and birds were the subject of several of his pieces. But his masterwork was dedicated to the passenger pigeon, each movement of the piece representing a different phase in the life of the bird. Neely Bruce, a nationally known musicologist, conductor, and composer, is working with us to find symphony orchestras who would like to present this remarkable music.
(For the complete symphonic proposal, email P3)

caretA Culinary Consideration of Conservation
Passenger pigeons were the cheapest terrestrial protein then available so they became a commodity sold in local and national markets to help feed the growing human population of Canada and the United States. They were both a mainstay of the poor and frequent offering in some of the fanciest venues of the 19th century. We are working with chefs and others to offer menus based on 19th century recipes as a way to focus attention on the procurement and use of biological resources then and now (open ocean fishing is the closest current analogue to the unregulated market hunting that decimated North American wildlife a century ago).
(For more information on this culinary subject, email P3)

caretTheatrical Productions of Compelling Little-Known Stories
The history of the passenger pigeon is filled with fascinating human characters whose stories would be well suited for dramatizations. There are, for example, Julius Brutus Booth who wanted to hold a funeral for eight dead passenger pigeons because he so opposed their slaughter; Etta Wilson, whose father was from a long line of Ottawa chiefs and healers and whose mother was a missionary’s daughter, helped process the thousands of pigeons her father killed but then as an adult devoted her life to bird conservation; and Henry Roney, a music teacher who tried to stop the killing at the last large nesting in Michigan in 1878. There is rich material here for theater companies or university departments to write and produce shows based on these stories, either for adults or children.
(For more information on theatrical materials, email P3)

caretFly a Kite for Conservation
An idea from Domenico D'Alessandro: Flying kites is one of the most loved and creative hobbies shared around the world. The “Fly a Kite for Endangered Species” event proposes to create a one day event on the centenary of the death of the last passenger pigeon on September 1, 1914 and promote the protection for all endangered species on this planet. The goals are to disseminate information on the plight of fellow creatures and raise money to donate to WWF. This idea came to me as a participant artist in the Project Passenger Pigeon. As I was working on my particular art work for the occasion it dawned on me that a large participatory event would generate more interest than any personal art piece. The aim is to have a world-wide coordinated event with shared photos and videos collected on the Fly a Kite for Endangered Species Facebook page. All kite organizations and art institutes are welcome to participate by posting to this page. A special request of participation goes to school districts around the world to have children involved in this event. Participants can post progress reports and communicate with each other. (For more information, email P3)

An Outreach Photo Request to Our P3 Audience—
One element of Project Passenger Pigeon involves the collection of resources related to the species. One of the most perplexing aspects of the passenger pigeon record is that despite the many written descriptions of these birds being killed there seems to be a total absence of photographic documentation: no photos of a guy with one dead pigeon, none of wagons filled with dead birds, none of barrels of pigeons being lined up along a railroad track or a Great Lakes dock, none of a bird or two hanging from the stalls of a game market, none of coops with live birds to be used for food or shooting contests, or of contestants in urban trap meets showing off their dead birds. A number of researchers have expended much effort on locating such photos but to no avail.

Masses of passenger pigeons were still being killed as late at 1882 and smaller numbers through the 1890s. If anyone knows of any photos such as those mentioned, please contact us.

An Invitation to Submit Your Project Ideas for Posting
After reviewing this page, if you have an idea for a P3-related event or activity please send it to us to review for posting at the Idea Center: Email P3

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