Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future

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by State, Province, Territory or City.

There are now organizations
this State, Province or Territory who are displaying the symbol

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Passenger Pigeons in Your State, Province or Territory


(Compiled by Ben Novak and Joel Greenberg)

Passenger pigeons were a fairly common to common migrant in woodlands in the eastern part of the state and along the Missouri River and its tributaries. It did nest but in much smaller numbers. Cooper writing in 1869 recorded finding many nests along the Missouri River above Pierre. The earliest spring record was established on May 3, 1857 on the banks of the Big Sioux River (David Swanson, Birds of South Dakota).

Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon: 
A bird was recorded from Brookings in 1884 and it was deemed to be rare in the southeastern part of the sate in the summer of 1885 (A.W. Schorger, The Passenger Pigeon: Its Natural History and Extinction, 1955)

Places Likely Named for the Passenger Pigeon:
There are no known places in South Dakota with pigeon in the name.

South Dakota Highlights:
Passenger pigeon remains have been found at the Crow Creek Site, a place near Chamberlain that lies along the Missouri River and is now controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers. During the 14th century it was inhabited by people who now make up the Mandan and Arikara Nations. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

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

Brookings: *South Dakota State University

* 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 South Dakota

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 South Dakota. [Schorger-SD.pdf]

Read Historical Accounts from Shorger's Original Field Notes about the Passenger Pigeon in South Dakota

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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