Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future

Ile-Aux-Tourtes Photo

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Passenger Pigeons in Your State, Province or Territory


(Compiled by Bob Russell and edited by Joel Greenberg)

At times abundant in the  southwestern parts, north rarely to perhaps Fort-George and east probably to Gaspe Peninsula (W. E. Godfrey, 1986, The Birds of Canada, rev. ed.).” The earliest arrival date was 30 April 1861 at Sillery, and the latest fall date was 9 December 1888 at Lachine.  Boucher who lived in the Trois-Rivieres area in 1664, reported the species was present between May and September (J. Gauthier and Y. Aubry, 1996, The Breeding Birds of Quebec).

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:
A specimen was collected at Tadousac on July 20, 1889 and five were shot at Pointe des Monts  June 27, 1889. A bird was supposedly taken at St. Vincent on September 23, 1907 and identified by A. Learo, a taxidermist. (A.W. Schorger, The Passenger Pigeon, Its Natural History and Extinction (1955)) Five years later, another purported passenger pigeon was shot, this time by John Hough of Odell Town. It too was corroborated by Mr. Learo and the story was picked up in newspapers throughout the U.S. It proved to be a mourning dove. (M. Gosselin)

Places Likely Named for the Passenger Pigeon:
There is one very high profile place named after the Passenger Pigeon in the province of Quebec. It is called Île-aux-Tourtes (Passenger Pigeon Island). A bridge brings a high volume of traffic to and from the city of Montreal (which is on an island) by crossing over Île-aux-Tourtes, which lies to the west of Montreal, between it and terra firma. The bridge (Pont de l'Île-aux-Tourtes) is referred to in local Montreal media daily due to heavy traffic and, sometimes, accidents. There is also a public park on the island named after the passenger pigeon, Parc de l'Île-aux-Tourtes. Other places named after the Passenger Pigeon include: Lac aux Tourtes, a lake in the town of Montpellier in Papineau County; Lac des Tourtes, a lake near Notre-Dame-de-Pontmain in Antoine-Labelle County; Chemin du Lac-des-Tourtes is a road in Notre-Dame-de-Pontmain; Lac des Tourtes, a lake near Saint-Alexis-des-Monts in Maskinonge County; and, Ruisseau de l' Île aux Tourtes, a creek in Saint-Boniface, also in Maskinonge County.

Quebec Highlights

M. Gosselin and M. Robert writing in The Breeding Birds of Quebec (Ibid) quote Pehr Kalm, a Swedish naturalist who visited Quebec in 1749While these birds are hatching their young, or while the latter are not yet able to fly, the . . . Indians in North America are in the habit of never shooting or killing them, nor of allowing others to do so, pretending that it would be a great pity on their young, which would in that case have to starve to death.  Some of the Frenchmen told me that they had set out with the intention of shooting some of them at that season of the year, but that the savages had at first with kindness endeavored to dissuade them from such a purpose, and later added threats to their entreaties when the latter were of no avail.

The Virtual Museum of New France notes that “the arrival of passenger pigeon in May was considered a godsend.  Almost everyone ate these birds during the period called the “dove season” (temps des tourterelles), to the point where, in 1710, the butchers of the city of Quebec complained about selling far less meat during this time. 

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

Joliette: Musee du Seminaire de Joliet

La Pactière: Musée François-Pilote

Montréal: Musée de Lachine, skeletal material

Montréal: *Redpath Museum, McGill University

Quebec City: *Provincial Museum

Quebec City: Laval University

Rigaud: College Bourget Museum

Rimouski: Maison LaMontagne, skeleton

Sherbrooke: *Sherbrooke Nature and Science Museum

St. Laurent: Collège de Saint-Laurent

* 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 Quebec

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 Quebec. [Schorger-QC.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 Quebec

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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