Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future

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Passenger Pigeons in Your State, Province or Territory


NEW HAMPSHIRE

(Compiled by Joel Greenberg)

In his 1903 work on the birds of New Hampshire, Glover Allen summarized the former status of the bird: “Arriving within our borders during the first week of April in tremendous flocks, they nested in large colonies, at least as far north as the White Mountains proper.” The pigeons would stay until October.

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:

A bird shot on October 10, 1881 was stuffed and displayed in the Public Library of Acworth, not far from where the bird met its demise. A later report is that of W.W. Flint who told Allen that he killed a bird near his home at Concord during the summer of 1885.

Places Likely Named for the Passenger Pigeon:

There are at least 2 places in New Hampshire with pigeon in the name:

Pigeon Hill (summit) in Merrimack County and Rockingham County

New Hampshire Highlights:

Writing of the 1780s in his History of New Hampshire (1875), E.D. Sanborn said that in the northern part of the state the sky was “black with flocks of pigeons, which were caught in immense numbers and their meat dried for winter use. The feathers were used for bedding.”

Wild pigeons come in the spring, from the southward, in great flocks, and breed in our woods, during the summer months. They choose the thickest parts of the forest, for the situation of their nests. Jeremy Belknap, The History of New Hampshire, 1792.

Dr. W.H. Fox writes me that they were formerly very common at Hollis in the southern part fo the state, and used to be netted extensively in the ‘70’s; one nest was found, and the last flock seen was in 1880. Glover Allen, A List of New Hampshire Birds, 1903.

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

Concord: NH Audubon’s McLane Center

Dover: Annie Woodman Institute

Hanover: Montshire Museum of Science (?)

Wolfeboro: Libby Museum (?)

* 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 New Hampshire

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 New Hampshire. [Schorger-NH.pdf]

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

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

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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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