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 southern most nestings known for this species occurred in Mississippi, for there were at least two large ones over the first three decades of the 19th century. Otherwise, there seems to be very little recorded on the bird in this state, but it surely was a regular winter visitor and undoubtedly in large numbers at times.

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:
Schorger (The Passenger Pigeon, 1955) says that no information was found, citing an observation of a few birds at Corinth in October 1874.

Places Likely Named for Passenger Pigeon:
There are at least 10 places in Mississippi with pigeon in the name:

Pigeon Roost Cemetery (cemetery) in Choctaw County

Pigeon Roost (historical locale) in Choctaw County

Pigeon Roost Creek (stream) in Choctaw County, De Soto County

Pigeon Roost Branch (stream) in Hancock County and Tishomingo County

Pigeon Roost Watershed Y-5-122 Dam and Y-5-124 Dams in Marshall County

Pigeon Roost Creek Canal in Tate County

Pigeon Roost Stand (historical) in Webster County

Mississippi Highlights:

Passenger pigeon remains have been found in at least two archeological sites within the state. In a bell-shaped pit at the Rock Levee site (Late Middle Woodland) two pigeon bones have been found. The second site is the Grand Village of the Natchez (22 AD 501), also known as the Fatherland Site. It spreads across 128 acres and includes a prehistoric indigenous village and earthwork mounds in present-day south Natchez. The village complex was constructed by members of the prehistoric Plaquemine culture. They built the three platform mounds in stages. Another phase of significant construction work by these prehistoric people has been dated to the mid-15th century. It was named for the historic Natchez people who used the site in the 17th and 18th centuries. The village was the Natchez tribe's main political and religious ceremonial center in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Three passenger pigeon bones have been discovered here. The site is a U.S. National Historic Landmark as well as a state landmark.

The farthest south nesting ever known for this species occurred in spring of 1832 about 50 miles south of Columbus. It was described in detail by Gideon Lincecum and summarized in Turcotte and Watts Birds of Mississippi (1999): "Through the . . . 30 square miles of that densely timbered bottom, from as high as one’s head on horseback on the saplings, to the topmost limbs on the tallest trees, not a vacant spot where a nest could be crowded in, was to be found anywhere. Egg laying commenced synchronously and only one egg per nest was found on a later visit. On the large horizontal prongs of the big trees, were long rows of nests, closely jammed side by side, and in all the forks, on projecting knots and many more unlikely places nests were found. . . Lincecum described the enormous activity and noise of feeding the young on later visits. Then, the adults suddenly abandoned the fledglings in the nests for two days when all of the young left simultaneously. Two days later great numbers of the young pigeons were on adjacent prairies of the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations feeding on the fields of wild strawberries. The Indians were killing them with sticks for food."

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

Jackson: *Mississippi Museum of Natural Science

* 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 Mississippi

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 Mississippi. [Schorger-MS.pdf]

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

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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