Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future

View the full list of P3 Participating Organizations
by State, Province, Territory or City.

There are now organizations
this State, Province or Territory who are displaying the symbol

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Passenger Pigeons in Your State, Province or Territory


(Compiled by Joel Greenberg)

Abundant migrant and summer resident until at least early 1800s, but even then, it still persisted in large enough numbers to attract numerous shooters and netters for the next fifty years.

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:

The last record for which there seems to be no question was of a bird shot at Dexter by Frank Rogers, August 16, 1896. A more questionable record that has been in the literature for a long time involves a female observed in a taxidermy shop in Bangor in the early summer of 1904. The bird had recently arrived from Bar Harbor.

Places Likely Named for Passenger Pigeon:

There are at least 14 places in Maine with pigeon in the name:

Pigeon Hill (rise) in Androscoggin County

Pigeon Brook (stream) in Cumberland County

Pigeon Brook School (school) in Cumberland County

Pigeon Island (island) in Hancock County

Pigeon Plains School (school) in Kennebec County

Pigeon Ground (sand bar) in Knox County

Pigeon Point (cape) in Oxford County

Pigeon Hill Bay (bay) in Washington County

Pigeon Hill Cove (bay) in Washington County

Pigeon Hill (populated place) in Washington County

Pigeon Hill (rise) at three locations in Washington County

Pigeon Hill Heath (swamp) in Washington County

Maine Highlights:

It is stated that from the first settlement up to about 1775 pigeons in innumerable numbers haunted the woods near the sea, and pigeon stands were still in use there until after 1840. In their season, they furnished food for many families. Based on Henry Bourne, History of Wells and Kennebunk (1875)) from Forbush, Birds of Massachusetts and New England (1927)

In August, at the end of the breeding season, great flocks wandered about in search of food. When an unusual number stayed in one locality for any length of time, and many were shot, in local tradition, that became known as a pigeon year. (Ralph Palmer, Maine Birds (1949))

In Hancock County, formerly nested in great abundance according to old hunters but none since 1887. (Ora Knight, Birds of Maine (1908))

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

Augusta: *Maine State Museum

Brunswick: *Bowdoin College

Falmouth: *Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Maine Audubon Society

Hinckley: *L.C. Bates Museum

Presque Isle: *University of Maine

* 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 Maine

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 Maine. [Schorger-ME.pdf]

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

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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