Extinct Species Series
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To most people the Carolina Parakeet, Passenger Pigeon, Ivory Billed Woodpecker, Heath Hen, etc. are just names in a book or occasionally thrown at you in lectures. Our goal in doing our extinct species series is to visually touch the viewer by the beauty, interesting nature of and the importance of the species -- to educate the viewer to the irreversible horror that lies in wait for many species that are endangered today -- and to give a "face" to that which is no longer tangible to mankind. We hope our creations will stir the viewer to get more involved when they hear of a life form in today's world on the verge of endangerment or worse . . . extinction.

Doing the research on this series has been difficult for a number of reasons. We obviously had to rely on a museum specimen which is not our usual mode of study. Then we also relied on reference materials and personal accounts that were both awesome and absolutely tore us apart. We had the exhilaration of learning about this bird and the despair that it was no longer here.

We visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Denver Museum of Natural History, the University of Florida Museum, the Charleston Historical Museum and a few specimens that are in private collections. It was staggering to see the numbers of specimens in these establishments.

#1 “Extinct is Forever”
Passenger Pigeon---extinct 1914
Private Collection

Click on image to enlarge

This was the first extinct species piece we did. Not with the thoughts of doing a series but because we wanted to do it for ourselves. We brought it to a show and right away we noticed what a marvelous teaching tool it was! People would try to ID it by saying it looked like a dove or a pigeon then they would ask us what it was. We would then tell them that it basically filled the nitch between the dove and pigeon.

We would then tell them that it was once the most plentiful bird on the planet and that there are records of Passenger Pigeon flocks that were a half mile wide and would continue ALL DAY and basically blacken the sky from the number of birds. It is hard to fathom the number of birds this represents.

Their demise was brought on primarily by packs of men who would follow the flocks and hunt them day and night for restaurants---fresh squab was in demand. They were called market hunters and their methods were crude but very effective. There are accounts of pigeons arriving in the cities by the HUNDREDS of BARRELS FULL.

Once the Passenger Pigeon numbers had dwindled substantially there was an effort to save the species. This was also being conducted at the same time that a lot of hunters were out collecting specimens for major collections within our country.

The Passenger Pigeon was a very gregarious bird and as the numbers dwindled so did the regeneration of the species -- social conditions were not right plus they were still being harassed.

The last Passenger Pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914---a female they named “Martha”. She now is in the Smithsonian Institute’s Natural History Museum in Washington, DC.

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