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 Garrie Landry and Joel Greenberg)

The Passenger Pigeon was formerly an abundant visitor from November to February in most of Louisiana, including the southern portion. It was recorded south to Rayne and Mandeville (H.C. Oberholser, Bird Life of Louisiana (1938)

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:

Two birds were shot out of a flock of five on January 26, 1895, at Mandeville and another pigeon was killed near Bains in the fall of that year. On November 28, 1896, A.E. McIlleny encountered a small flock of mourning doves as he hunted for prairie chickens near Walsh. A larger bird in their midst drew his attention and it proved to be a passenger pigeon.

Places Likely Named for Passenger Pigeon:

There are at least 9 places in Louisiana with pigeon in the name:

Pigeon Roost Bayou (stream) in Bossier Parish

Pigeon Roost Creek (stream) in East Feliciana Parish and St. Tammany Parish

Pigeon Bay (bay) in Iberville Parish and St. Martin Parish

Pigeon (populated place) in Iberville Parish

Pigeon Bayou (stream) in St. Martin Parish and Vermillion Parish

Pigeon Creek (stream) in St. Helena Parish

Louisiana Highlights:

Poverty Point State Historic Site, of Late Woodland origin in Pioneer (West Carroll Parrish), yielded a single passenger pigeon bone. What makes this important is that it was found in what is believed to be a refuse pit filled otherwise filled entirely with squirrel bones. Squirrels were not important elements of the human diet back then and it is believed that the area was used as an area of special feasts hosted by a leader named Squirrel King. This suggests that the pigeons were only utilized in this region as fare for unusual events. (H. E. Jackson, Engaged Anthropology (2005) 174-199).

The Wood-Pigeons are seen in such prodigious numbers, that I do not fear to exaggerate, when I affirme that they sometimes clouds the sun. One day on the banks of the Mississippi I met with a flock of them so large, that before they all passed, I had leisure to fire wit the small piece four times at them.  .  . These birds come to Louisiana only in the winter, and remain in Canada during the summer, where they devour the corn, as they eat acorns in Louisiana.”  M. Le Page Du Pratz, 1774

“The number of wood-pigeons which swarm here in winter . . . is astonishing.”  T. Jeffreys, 1760.

John J. Audubon records that it was abundant in Louisiana in 1826. Ambrose Daigre states that this pigeon was reported to be numerous about 1850 near Pineville.  (Oberholser)

Louisiana Locations known to have Passenger Pigeon Skins, Mounts, and or Skeletons:

Baton Rouge: Natural History Museum, Louisiana State University

* 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 Louisiana

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 Louisiana. [Schorger-LA.pdf]

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

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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