This is Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon. She died on September 1, 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo. Shortly thereafter, her body was packed in ice and sent by railroad to Washington, DC, to become a part of the National Museum of Natural History’s collection as a lasting legacy of the harm that can be done to the natural world by humans. Just decades prior, the Passenger Pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America. The disappearance of the species helped ignite the modern conservation movement.
For the Centennial of her death, Martha was recently brought out for display and is currently on view in the exhibition Once There Were Billions, Vanished Birds of North America. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Libraries in partnership with the National Museum of Natural History and the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the exhibition tells the story of the last Passenger Pigeon, a member of a species that once numbered in the billions, along with the disappearance of the Great Auk, Carolina Parakeet, and Heath Hen. These extinctions reveal the fragile connections between species and their environment.
The Smithsonian Libraries, National Museum of Natural History, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library will be hosting a Twitter Chat on September 2, 2014 from 2-3 pm Eastern Time. This is your chance to ask questions about the Passenger Pigeon, extinction, and biodiversity literature.
Follow @SILibraries, @NMNH, and @BioDivLibrary and use the hashtag #Martha100 to tweet your questions.