12 January 2015

Book Review: The Passenger Pigeon

Errol Fuller writes beautifully about extinct animals in his book Lost Animals and this time he is back with a primer on all things Passenger Pigeon.  The Passenger Pigeon is a detailed history of how the blue pigeon went from being one of the most plentiful species in North America to one that vanished literally overnight.  The book is full of photos, drawings, and quotations from many famous naturalists and historians.  This is a must-have book for those that want a picture of what modern day extinction looks like and how simple it can happen before our eyes.

Passenger Pigeon chick, early 1900s

With so many books about Passenger Pigeons, I cannot say this is the most detailed book but it is concise, lavishly illustrated, and covers the whole process from early colonization of North America to the early 1900's when the last Passenger Pigeon left the Earth.  Perhaps what draws me to the book most is the plentiful photos and artwork.  The author himself states the book is a celebration memorial of a species lost and I believe that he does a wonderful job painting the picture of how and why this animal is no longer alive.  With 2014 being the 100 year anniversary of Martha's death I could see why such a book would be published.  For those that don't know Martha died in a zoo in 1914 but her preserved body and story continues to teach people about this species.  This book is a wonderful reference book and hopefully has helped bring awareness that extinction is a modern day problem.  There are even some people that are working to bring the Passenger Pigeon back from extinction, which you can learn all about at Revive & Restore.

"When an individual is seen gliding through the woods and close to the observer, it passes like a thought, and on trying to see it again, the eye searches in vain; the bird is gone."
-John James Audubon

This review copy was provided by Princeton University Press.

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