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Tag: Once There Were Billions

Passenger Pigeon Lands a Permanent Perch

The Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens presented The Lost Bird Project exhibition from March 2014 – May 2015. Housed in the Smithsonian’s gardens, it featured large-scale bronze sculpture memorials of five extinct North American birds: the Carolina parakeet, the Labrador duck, the passenger pigeon, the great auk, and the heath hen. The Lost Bird Project dedicated one bird, the passenger pigeon, to remain permanently with the Smithsonian – in front of the National Museum of Natural History – close to Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who resides in the museum.

“Once There Were Billions” t-shirts now available!

From June 24, 2014 – Jan 3, 2016, the Smithsonian Libraries presents “Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America”. The exhibition, on display in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, focuses on the story of the last Passenger Pigeon, the disappearance of the Great Auk, Carolina Parakeet, and Heath Hen and how they reveal the fragile connections between species and their environment.

Now you can remember these four great birds while supporting the Smithsonian Libraries. Purchases of this shirt, which features iconic images of the extinct species, directly benefits programing for the Libraries’ exhibitions.

Remembering Martha: A recap of our Twitterchat

On September 2nd, 2014, the day after the 100th anniversary of the death of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, the Smithsonian Libraries , National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) hosted a twitterchat in honor of the beloved bird. The chat featured Helen James, Curator in Charge of the Division of Birds at NMNH and Martin Kalfatovic, program director of BHL, who contributed for their respective organizations.

Once There Were Billions: 100 Year Anniversary of the death Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon

Martha, the last passenger pigeon.
Martha, the last passenger pigeon.

This post is written by Helen James, Curator-in-Charge, Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History. Ask Helen a question during our Twitterchat on Tuesday, September 2nd!

Martha, the last passenger pigeon, is back on public display for the first time since 1999, this time in an exhibition titled Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America that opened in the Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery of the National Museum of Natural History on June 24. Martha died on September 1, 1914, in the Cincinnati Zoo; she was immediately frozen into a 300-pound block of ice and shipped by fast train to the Smithsonian in Washington. There her body was carefully preserved as a taxidermy mount and an anatomical specimen. She had been recognized in the last years of her life as the only surviving individual of a species that was the most abundant bird in North America only decades earlier. In death, she has become one of the Smithsonian’s most treasured specimens. Martha’s story was a wake-up call for our nation regarding its unregulated harvesting of natural resources and contributed to the development of our modern conservation ethic and laws protecting wildlife.