Today's Digital Mural


Martha the Last Passenger Pigeon

One hundred years ago today, Martha, the last passenger pigeon, died. The extinction of a once thriving species at the hands of humans reminds us how delicate the balance of life is on Earth.

According to the Smithsonian Institution, early explorers and settlers frequently mentioned passenger pigeons in their writings. Cotton Mather described a flight as being about a mile in width and taking several hours to pass overhead. But unrestricted hunting and habitat destruction ultimately doomed the wild flocks.

The one valuable result of the extinction of the passenger pigeon was that it aroused public interest in the need for strong conservation laws. Because these laws were put into effect, we have saved many other species of our migratory birds and wildlife.

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Image credit:Flickr/Wagner Free Institute of Science

Funding for WGBH’s digital mural has been provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, administered through a collaborative arrangement between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


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