Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future

swampPigeon Swamp State Park in South Brunswick

ShootingMatchNewspaper illustration of a pigeon shooting match at Greenville, New Jersey.


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

P3Symbol that indicates they are offering rewarding activities for visitors and volunteers interested in pursuing the themes of Project Passenger Pigeon. You can locate them, with a link to their websites, plus the full list of all participating organizations: here.

Passenger Pigeons in Your State, Province or Territory


(Compiled by Joel Greenberg)

New Jersey falls just barely outside of the main nesting range of the passenger pigeon and there are no reports of large nestings. But they did undoubtedly nest in smaller groups from time to time, particularly in the northwest portion. As migrants, large numbers passed through the state and were recorded in all months of the year.

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:
A bird was shot at Morristown on October 7, 1893, and another on June 23, 1896, in Englewood.

Places Likely Named for Passenger Pigeon:
There are at least 2 places in New Jersey with pigeon in the name, both in Middlesex County:

Pigeon Swamp State Park and Forest and the Pigeon Swamp for which it is named.

New Jersey Highlights:

David DeVrie wrote that when he crossed from Cape Henlopen to Cape May in April 1633 an immense flight of Wild Pigeons obscured the sky.

As a young man sometime shortly before 1820, Samuel Willson of Hamburg went in a big wagon to a swamp near Deckerstown (now Sussex) to catch pigeons from their roosts in the darkness. They took short ladders and were able to grab by hand the birds on the branches without scaring off nearby pigeons. They had brought along corn sacks and filled them with pigeons.

For the last fortnight the air has been almost black with wild pigeons . . . Within ten miles square during the last fortnight I suppose they have shot or netted at least twenty thousand”, wrote John Waterhouse from Camp Gaugh, Franklin Township, Bergen County in March 23, 1838. He described the netting of the pigeons using buckwheat as bait and live-captive pigeons to lure the wild flocks. The technique was so successful that three or four hundred pigeons could be caught in one haul.

Jacob Luse who lived in Walnut Valley, Warren County told of a flock he encountered in 1850: “It was just like shooting at a barn door, the birds were so thick.”

New Jersey locations known to have passenger pigeon skins, mounts, and/or skeletons:

Lyndhurst: *Meadowlands Environment Center

Newark: *Newark Museum 

Tenafly: *Tenafly Nature Center

Trenton: *New Jersey State 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 Jersey

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 Jersey. [Schorger-NJ.pdf]

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

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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