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To this day the Passenger Pigeon story represents the most famous human-caused extinction in history. In this fascinating seminar, Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick reviews the remarkable biology and tragic disappearance of this species. Using vivid historical accounts from eyewitnesses (by turns funny and sobering), Fitzpatrick explores how and why a bird could achieve such spectacular numbers and reveals the multiple forces that led to its catastrophic collapse.

Martha, the very last Passenger Pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in September 1914. A century later, Fitzpatrick contemplates, What have we learned since Martha’s passing? Watch the seminar, titled “Reflections on the Tragic Centenary of the Last Passenger Pigeon”:

The talk took place on September 15, 2014. It was part of the Cornell Lab’s long-running Monday Night Seminar series, a tradition established decades ago by Lab founder Dr. Arthur Allen. If you enjoyed this seminar, check this page for our list of future speakers—we’ll note which upcoming talks will be livestreamed—or come visit us in person! If you missed any talks, please see our index of archived livestreamed seminars.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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