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 Robert Russell)

Formerly bred. The early settlement pattern of this province sealed the fate of breeding pigeons much earlier than provinces and states to the west and south.

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:
Schorger (The Passenger Pigeon, 1955) says the species was gone by 1879.

Places Likely Named for Passenger Pigeon:
Just north of Berwick’s main street, in 1778, the Morton family built and settled into a log cabin on a knoll on what is now the Parker-Condon Road. The homestead was dubbed “Pigeon Island” after a popular roosting spot for the Passenger Pigeon.

Nova Scotia Highlights:
The Atlas of Breeding Birds of the Maritime Provinces (A. J. Erskine 1992) notes that human influence on landbirds for food was far less an adverse impact than on waterbirds with the one obvious exception being the Passenger Pigeon, “extinct in the wild since 1900, of which Maritimes hunters took a share while Maritimes lumbermen were eliminating the formerly more extensive mature hardwood forests on which this species depended. The pigeons were mostly gone from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island by 1850, but persisted in New Brunswick until the 1870’s, not long before they became very scarce everywhere.”

The late Harry Piers collected references to the Passenger Pigeon in Nova Scotia. He noted that Halifax taxidermist W. A. Purcell said that about 1846 or 1847 Passenger Pigeons were abundant and his father, at Purcell’s Cove, used to shoot large numbers of them. He said they disappeared about 1850.

Jones, writing in 1879, noted this bird some thirty or forty years ago was extremely abundant in fall but has now apparently “forsaken the province.”

Nestlings were described as occurring in Pictou County in pioneer times.

Read Fascinating Historical Accounts of the Passenger Pigeon in Nova Scotia

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 Nova Scotia. [Schorger-NS.pdf]
These links will take you to a table that provides details of all the historical records Bill Schorger recorded for Canada [Schorger-Canada.pdf] and France. [Schorger-France.pdf]

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

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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