Objects of Wonder: Passenger Pigeon

Donald E. Hurlbert / Smithsonian Institution
March 9, 2017
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Taxidermy brown bird on branch
Donald E. Hurlbert / Smithsonian Institution

Passenger Pigeon: Ectopistes migratorius

Martha the Passenger Pigeon is one of the Smithsonian’s greatest treasures. In life, Martha lived at the Cincinnati Zoo where she was visited by long lines of people eager to get a glimpse of the last living individual of her species. Martha died in 1914 and the Passenger Pigeon became extinct. Only decades earlier, her species had been widespread and abundant in North America but was heavily hunted for food. The Smithsonian’s taxidermy mount made from Martha’s remains remind us that even widespread and abundant North American species can become extinct.

Photo: Donald E. Hurlbert / Smithsonian Institution