Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future

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by State, Province, Territory or City.

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Passenger Pigeons in Your State, Province or Territory


(Compiled by Garrie Landry and Joel Greenberg)

This species was an abundant spring and fall migrant throughout the state. According to Robbins and Easterla (Birds of Missouri, 1992) "accounts of nesting and wintering are fewer and more fragmented; nevertheless, it was reported to have bred, at least locally, in huge colonies in a few areas of the state, and there are reports of birds breeding in scattered pairs. Accounts of large winter roosts are mainly from southern Missouri."

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:

The last specimens were two birds shot from a flock of 50 in Oregon County on December 17, 1896 by Charles Holden, Jr.

Places Likely Named for Passenger Pigeon:
There are at least 17 places in Missouri with pigeon in the name:

Pigeon Hill State Wildlife Area (park) in Buchanan County

Pigeon Creek (stream) in Buchanan County, Dent County, Marion County, Ralls County, Ripley County,

Pigeon Roost Hollow (valley) in Dent County, McDonald County, Ripley County, Shannon County,

Pigeon Ridge (ridge) in Holt County

Pigeon Roost (woods) in Howell County

Pigeon Roost Creek (stream) in Monroe County

Pigeon Creek Post Office in Ralls County

Pigeon Creek School (historical) in Texas County

Pigeon Creek School in Texas County

Pigeon Roost Lead Mine in Washington County

Missouri Highlights:
Thirty-seven passenger pigeon bones have been found at Bridgeton, a Late Woodland village on a terrace above the Missouri River. Unfortunately, the site is not open to the public.

"Here was a space of about forty acres of willows which not only all the branches broken off, but likewise many of the middling sized saplings were bent to the ground, while the surface was literally coated over with dung and feathers. I soon discovered that this was a pigeon roost, and that, from the myriads which come every evening to the same place, the branches are crowded at every twig, until, by the increase of weight, they are broken off." Christian Schultz describing the mouth of the Ohio River on October 24, 1807.

“Wild pigeons in immense flocks continue to pass over the city. As an article of food, these birds are no longer a luxury,-- they overstock the market, and for cheapness recommend themselves over every other species of flesh or fowl . . . On some days, no one who has not seen them, can forma an idea of the large numbers of pigeons that fill our woods." [St Louis] Republican, September 30, 1851.

"The woods in Shannon, Oregon, and Howell counties are full of pigeons, which are being killed by the thousands for shipment to eastern markets. Piedmont [in Wayne County] is the shipping point, and from there are shipped every day from 700 to 1,000 dozen of pigeons, bringing into the county for 600 to 800 dollars, net cash per diem. The birds are sent to Boston and New York, where they sell at $1.30 to $1.60 per dozen." [St. Louis] Republican, March 21, 1879.

The largest passenger pigeon dealer in the country was N.W. Judy & Co. of St. Louis. According to Otto Widmann (Birds of Missouri, 1907) the firm "had their netters employed all the year around, tracking the pigeons to Michigan and Wisconsin in spring and to the Indian Territory and the south in winter."

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

Fayette: Stephens Museum, Central Methodist University

Kansas City:  William Jewell College (?)

St Joseph: *St. Joseph Museum

St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society

* 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 Missouri

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 Missouri. [Schorger-MO.pdf]

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

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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