Screen: uploaded 8/18/2020
Screen: uploaded 8/18/2020

Passenger Pigeons

Theodore Jasper (American; German, 1814 – 1897)
Plate : 12 1/2 x 9 in. (31.75 x 22.86 cm)
Sheet : 14 1/4 x 11 1/4 in. (36.2 x 28.58 cm)
Mat : 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.64 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
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The passenger pigeon was a species of wild pigeon native to North America that is now extinct. It is estimated that when European colonists first arrived in North America there may have been between three and five billion passenger pigeons living on the continent. The birds were so numerous that migrating flocks would darken the skies and could take more than a day to pass over a given spot. As the number of white settlers in America increased during the 18th and 19th centuries, passenger pigeons were hunted for their meat, which was used as food; for their feathers, which were used in bedding; and for their blood and organs, which were used in medicines. At the same time, the settlers also cut down the old-growth forests where the passenger pigeons nested and lived. The twin forces of hunting and habitat loss caused the population of passenger pigeons to decline precipitously. The last wild passenger pigeon was killed in 1901 and the last captive passenger pigeon died in 1914. This image of passenger pigeons roosting in a tree was created by painter Theodore Jasper and published in the 1878 first edition of Studer’s Popular Ornithology: Birds of North America

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