Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future

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Passenger Pigeons in Your State, Province or Territory


(Compiled by Joel Greenberg)

The species was an abundant visitor to Connecticut during all seasons except summer, when it nested in small numbers on what was probably an annual basis.   

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:

A young male was killed at Portland on October 1, 1889. Another specimen was purportedly taken at North Bridgeport in August 1906. Doubt, however, has been raised about the actual year it was shot. The specimen now resides in the Los Angeles County Museum.

Places Likely Named for Passenger Pigeon

There are at least four places in Connecticut with pigeon in the name:

Pigeon Brook (stream) in New Haven County

Pigeon Swamp and Pigeon Swamp Brook (stream) in New London County

Pigeon Hill (rise) in New London County

Connecticut Highlights:

“[I]innumerable flights of pigeons, which fly south in the autumn.” Samuel Peters, A General History of Connecticut, 1782.

Large flocks of migrating pigeons would stop on the hills east of New Haven on their way to the salt marshes of Quinnipiac.

One Mr. Hill describes a flight of passenger pigeons in September 1876 in Groton: “Soon the pigeons commenced to fly about, and I shot ninety-six and my friend as many more. It seemed to us that the whole town [was] out gunning for pigeons. Old flint-locks, queen’s arms, and boys with gun locks tied on with string—any kind of firearm that could kill was called into service. . . The total number of pigeons in this flight was something wonderful and astounding. I shall never forget it.”  Sage et al, Birds of Connecticut, 1913.

In the collection of [John H. Sage] are two eggs taken in Portland. One was found May 29, 1873, the male pigeon being on the nest and afterwards shot and mounted; the other June 6, 1875. . . [T]he latter nest was on a small tree and not over ten feet from the ground. Sage et al, Birds of Connecticut, 1913.

Connecticut Locations Known to Have Passenger Pigeon Skins, Mounts, and or Skeletons:

Greenwich: *Bruce Museum

New Haven: *Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

Storrs: University of Connecticut

* If an asterisk appears, at least one passenger pigeon is known to be on display; this list is mainly based on Hahn's Where is That Vanished Bird (1963). Please let us know of any changes including additional locations and/or birds on display, name changes of institution, if birds are no longer present, etc.

Read Fascinating Historical Accounts of the Passenger Pigeon in Connecticut

Wisconsin’s A.W. [Bill] Schorger (1884-1972) spent many years researching the history of the Passenger Pigeon, and he summarized his findings in his 1955 book, The Passenger Pigeon: Its Natural History and Extinction. At the time of its publication, the book was the most comprehensive account of the species. Schorger did an excellent job summarizing the nearly 10,000 historical records he discovered in libraries and historical societies around the country, but his original research notes contain many additional details.
For the 2014 centennial, Professor Stanley Temple of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has made all Schorger’s handwritten research notes available in digital form. This link will take you to a table that provides details of all the historical records Bill Schorger discovered for Connecticut. [Schorger-CT.pdf]

Read Historical Accounts from Shorger's Original Field Notes about the Passenger Pigeon in Connecticut

These sources are newly available on the Passenger Pigeon site (as of January 25, 2014). The links below give access to often-firsthand, eyewitness accounts of pigeons, the table includes a cross reference to the exact page in Schorger’s notes where you can read the full text of the account and find a citation of the original source document. All these historical documents are in PDF format in sizes ranging from 24mb - 60mb. These documents will open in their own window. Use the links below to find the page containing the account you’re interested in exploring further:
Schorger pages 1-329
Schorger pages 330-632
Schorger pages 633-959
Schorger pages 960-1242
Schorger pages 1243-1585
Schorger pages 1586-1890
Schorger pages 1891-2232
Schorger pages 2233-2556


Your text contributions on passenger pigeons in the U.S. or Canada are welcome. Email your text notes to us. Include: first and last name, and the State or Province you reference in the Subject Line.

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