Martha: Still Extinct


Last year on this day I noted that it was on this day in 1914, one hundred and three years ago, that Martha, the last known living passenger pigeon died.

It is said that when Europeans first came to this continent the sky would be blacked out by the flight of passenger pigeons. While always hunted for food the killing of the pigeons moved to an industrial scale in the nineteenth century. The last confirmed killing of a wild bird, and I note this was also the last formal sighting was a killing, occurred in 1900.

Martha was born in captivity around 1885. Or, at least most people think so. The actually history is somewhat mysterious. What we know for sure is she lived most of her life in the Cincinnati zoo. And it was there that she died, today, that one hundred and two years ago.

It turns out extinct is in fact forever…

I think about us human beings. We are so wonderful, so amazing, and so, so terrible…

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