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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this State, Province or Territory who are displaying the symbol

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Passenger Pigeons in Your State, Province or Territory


(Compiled by Joel Greenberg)

Forbush, Birds of Massachusetts and other New England States (1927), summarizes the former status of the bird: “Formerly abundant migrant and common local to abundant local summer resident in all New England States.” Specific fall dates are known from Cranston, Kingston, Newport, and Providence. Many of the very early historical accounts of New England do not refer specifically to Rhode Island.

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:

Walter Angell collected a specimen at Cranston on November 2, 1886 and T.M. Flanagan is said to have obtained up to twelve birds at Warwick in the same year or the year before. A flock of eight was reportedly seen by the same Walter Angell in August 1893.

Places Likely Named for Passenger Pigeon:

There appears to be a total absent of places within the state that have pigeon as part of its name, although it is possible that a place name reflects the species in some other way as perhaps through an Indian name.

Rhode Island Highlights:

"Contained  . . . Millions of Turtledoves on the greene boughs, which sate pecking of the full ripe pleasant grapes that we were supported by lusty trees, whose fruitfull load did cause the armes to bend." Thomas Morton, New English Canaan, 1637.

“In that place these fowle breed abundantly, and by reason of their delicate food, especially in strawberry time, when they pick up whole large Field of the old grounds of the Natives, they are a delicate fowle, and because of their abundance, and the facility of killing them, they are and may be plentifully fed on." Roger Williams, Key into the Language of America, 1643.

"Towards evening they generally settle upon trees, and sit one upon another in such crowds as sometimes to break down the largest branches. The inhabitants at such times go out with long poles and knock number of them in the head upon the roost; for they are either so fatigued by their flight , or terrified by the obscurity of the night, that they will not move, or take wing, without some great and uncommon noise to alarm them." [near Newport] Andrew Barnaby, Travel through the Middle Settlements in North America, in the years 1759 and 1760, 1798.

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

Middletown: *Norman Bird Sanctuary

Providence: *Museum of Natural History and Planetarium in Roger Williams Park

* 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 Rhode Island

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 Rhode Island. [Schorger-RI.pdf]

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

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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