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50 exhibits, lectures, and films that recall the Passenger Pigeon with works of art and genius

Charley Harper’s painting of a Passenger Pigeon is being displayed in an exhibit at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. Courtesy Cornell Lab of Ornithology

So many museums, zoos, nature centers, and bird clubs are hosting events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon!

Below we list 50. We describe exhibitions first, then lectures, and then, farther down, screening times of the documentaries From Billions to None and The Lost Bird Project. The events are taking place now and running as late as October 2015.

Many were spurred by the educational and awareness-raising coalition Project Passenger Pigeon, which now includes participants from more than 190 institutions. Its leader is Joel Greenberg, author of both the acclaimed book A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction and our feature article Like Meteors from Heaven.

And yes, we know our list doesn’t include every event. If you can’t find one near you, check with a local conservation group or museum or search Project Passenger Pigeon’s calendar. — Matt Mendenhall, Managing Editor


American Museum of Natural History, New York City
Passenger Pigeons
Permanent collection
Several specimens are on view in the Hall of New York City Birds.

Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine
Envisioning Extinctions: Art as Witness and Conscience
September 1 through December 23, 2014
Displays Audubon’s double-elephant folio of Birds of America, Wilson’s American Ornithology, a print of Walton Ford’s “Visitation,” which shows Passenger Pigeons, and other historical images. Includes a mounted specimen of a male pigeon.

Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Ontario
Passenger Pigeons: Gone Forever?
Through June 30, 2015
This exhibit addresses the story of the pigeon, along with the little brown bat (another once-abundant species now doing poorly) and the question of whether the pigeon can be brought back to life.

Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati, Ohio
Passenger Pigeon Memorial
Permanent exhibit
The zoo’s last remaining Japanese pagoda-style building and one of its early bird aviaries, built in 1875, has been preserved and renovated as the Passenger Pigeon Memorial. The exhibit pays tribute to Martha, the last known Passenger Pigeon that died at the zoo in 1914, and features an octagonal case containing pigeon carvings by zoo employee and bird trainer Gary Denzler. The memorial serves as a reminder of the tragedy of extinction and asks visitors to consider how their actions affect wildlife.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York
What We’ve Lost: Recalling the Passenger Pigeon
September 10 through December 20, 2014
In the lobby of the Sapsucker Woods Visitor Center, see paintings, photographs, digital prints, and other art depicting Passenger Pigeons by John Ruthven, Charley Harper (above), Todd McGrain, Allan Brooks, and several other artists. Outside on trees along the southern part of the lab’s Wilson Trail, looks for 16 clay and acrylic bas-relief plaques of pigeons by artist Anita Welych. And a seven-foot bronze Passenger Pigeon sculpture by McGrain appears on the stone walkway leading to the lab.

Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville
A Shadow Over the Earth: The Life and Death of the Passenger Pigeon
September 1, 2014, through February 1, 2015
Features illustrations, artwork, and poetry from famed naturalists who documented the pigeon’s biology and its decline. Plus, see the museum’s two pigeon specimens.

Halton Region Museum, Milton, Ontario
Flights of Folly: Learning from the Passenger Pigeon
Through March 31, 2015
See the museum’s pigeon specimen, hang out in a human-size bird nest, and try pigeon origami.

This specimen of a male pigeon is on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Credit: Museum of Comparative Zoology
This specimen of a male pigeon is on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Credit: Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard

Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Final Flight: The Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon
Through February 2015
View a specimen (pictured above) and learn how the pigeon’s extinction inspired the protection of other species.

Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, McKinney, Texas
Project Passenger Pigeon
Through October 31, 2014
Informative and interactive exhibit installations and presentations.

Illinois State Museum, Springfield
Distress Calls: Birds of Illinois
Through December 31, 2014
Chronicles the plight of the pigeon and the lessons learned from its extinction. Also highlights research by zoologist H. David Bohlen, who has documented dramatic changes in the presence and populations of bird species in Sangamon County (home of Springfield) over 40 years.

John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, Audubon, Pennsylvania
The Plight of the Passenger Pigeon
September 13 through November 15, 2014
Opening reception: 10 am-noon, September 13
In the historic childhood home of John James Audubon, six local artists will exhibit their works depicting the pigeon.

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art, Auburn, Alabama
The Art of Vanishing: Selections from the Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection
Through October 5, 2014
Auburn University’s art museum displays works about the pigeon and other bird species that have vanished. The exhibit shows how the power of art points out poignant lessons of loss.

Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Kalamazoo, Michigan
A Pigeon’s Passing (PDF, see page 12)
Through December 2014
See a mounted specimen and a net used to catch pigeons.

Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin
Legacy Lost & Saved: Extinct and Endangered Birds of North America
Through July 2015
The museum that presents the annual Birds in Art exhibition is featuring two Passenger Pigeon paintings by renowned Wisconsin artist Owen Gromme, as well as other artists’ portrayals of extinct birds like Great Auk and Ivory-billed Woodpecker and endangered species such as Whooping Crane and California Condor.

Maine State Museum, Augusta
Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon
Through August 2015
Two specimens, eggs, and an 1854 painting of a pigeon will be displayed in the museum’s “Back to Nature” exhibit.

Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing
They Passed Like a Cloud: Extinction and the Passenger Pigeon
Through January 25, 2015
Unique elements of this exhibit are CT scans of the bird, 3D models of pigeons, and soundscape recreations of what the huge flocks sounded like.

The painting "Martha Finds Her Flock" by Kate Garchinsky is on view at the
The painting “Martha Finds Her Flock” by Kate Garchinsky is on view at the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove in Pennsylvania. ©2014 Kate Garchinsky, used with permission

Monte Bean Life Science Museum, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Protect Your Planet
Through June 15, 2015
Features threatened, endangered, and extinct life forms and some of the causes for their struggle to survive. It includes a full-mount elephant as well as a specimen of the pigeon.

Museum of American Bird Art, Canton, Massachusetts
Painting Birds to Save Them: The Critical Role of Art in the Bird Conservation Movement
Through September 14, 2014
Mass Audubon’s museum traces the history of bird conservation from its beginnings to the present era, using a selection of the exquisite works of art that helped convince the public that birds were worth saving. The artworks on view span nearly two centuries, beginning with the iconic art of John James Audubon and including works by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Roger Tory Peterson, Andy Warhol, James Fenwick Lansdowne, Lars Jonsson, David Sibley, and many more.

New Jersey State Museum, Trenton
A Shadow Over the Earth: The Life and Death of the Passenger Pigeon
Through June 27, 2015
Introduces visitors to the Passenger Pigeon and explores the causes of its extinction and the parallels to current species that are endangered. Children will enjoy making an origami bird, a beak-identification activity, silhouette cutouts, and instructions for a make-at-home birdhouse.

New London Public Museum, New London, Wisconsin
Extinct: The 100th Anniversary of the Last Passenger Pigeon
September 6, 2014, through February 28, 2015
Three specimens will be on display.

New York State Museum, Albany
The Passenger Pigeon: From Billions to Zero
August 30, 2014, through March 30, 2015
See specimens, an egg, and skeletal materials from the museum’s biology and history collections.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago
Nature’s Struggle: 
Survival & Extinction
Through October 19, 2014
This exhibit uses the pigeon’s story to address the use and understanding of animal and plant populations by humans over time. Take a guided journey through the history of biodiversity in three distinct time periods: 1820, 1905, and 2014. Experience the difference in our environment over time, the causes of those changes, and the startling consequences of our everyday actions.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago
The Dreams of Martha: Watercolors by Kristina Knowski
Through November 16, 2014
See stunning paintings by Knowski, a watercolor artist, of the Passenger Pigeon, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and Carolina Parakeet.

Smithsonian Gardens, Washington, D.C.
The Lost Bird Project
Through March 15, 2015
See five large-scale bronze sculptures of extinct North American birds: Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk, Carolina Parakeet, Labrador Duck, and Heath Hen. Four sculptures are located in the Enid A. Haupt Garden. The Passenger Pigeon statue is in the Urban Bird Habitat Garden.

The Lost Bird Project is also on view in Chicago, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and other locations. See the full list of current and future exhibits.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America
Through October 2015
Features specimens of a Great Auk, a Heath Hen, two Carolina Parakeets, and George and Martha, the last two known Passenger Pigeons.

Read more about the Smithsonian exhibits.

State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
A Fondness for Birds: Pennsylvania’s Alexander Wilson
Through March 15, 2015
Features bird prints and first-edition volumes of the 200-year-old American Ornithology series by Wilson. The exhibit also displays bird specimens, including a Passenger Pigeon.

University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, Ann Arbor
A Shadow Over the Earth: The Life and Death of the Passenger Pigeon and The Passenger Pigeon in Michigan
Through January 4, 2015
Companion exhibits. Objects include four pigeon specimens, a stool and net used by pigeon hunters, and an original painting by Louis Agassiz Fuertes. (Two additional specimens are on permanent display in the Michigan Wildlife Gallery.)

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven, Connecticut
From Billions to Zero: An Anniversary of Extinction
September 1-30, 2014
See specimens of an adult male, an adult female, and a juvenile male, a nest and egg, and an image of Martha, the last survivor, from a photograph taken by Enno Meyer.


Start times are in the time zones of each event’s location.

Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin
“The Prehistory of the Feathered Tempest: The Passenger Pigeon Zooarchaeology in the Upper Midwest” with Steve Kuehn
7 pm, September 8, Center for the Sciences
Kuehn, a zooarchaeologist with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey Prairie Research Institute, will describe pigeon finds from the archaeological record of Illinois and Wisconsin, including recent discoveries from the American Bottom, a 175-square-mile flood plain of the Mississippi River in southern Illinois, that provide insight on the prehistory of the pigeon.

Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin
 “The Passenger Pigeon’s Extinction: Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future” with Stanley Temple
7 pm, September 10, Center for the Sciences
Temple, Beers-Bascom Professor Emeritus in Conservation at the University of Wisconsin and Senior Fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation, will recount the sobering story of the Passenger Pigeon and what it can tell us about the ongoing extinction crisis and our relationship with other species.

Read why Stanley Temple says Aldo Leopold’s “On a Monument to a Pigeon” is worth re-reading today.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York
“Martha’s Question: Have You Learned Anything from My Passing? Reflections on the Tragic Centenary of the Last Passenger Pigeon” with John Fitzpatrick
7:30-9 pm, September 15, Sapsucker Woods Visitor Center and live online seminar
Join the seminar in person or watch live at this link as Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab, discusses Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, and the extinction of her species.

Read Fitzpatrick’s August 29 op-ed in the New York Times about the loss of the pigeon.

Houston Audubon Society, Houston, Texas
“Project Passenger Pigeon — Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future” with Garrie Landry
6:30 pm, September 19, Trini Mendenhall Sosa Community Center
Landry, an aviculturist and a biologist with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has had a lifelong interest in the Passenger Pigeon and maintains a website dedicated to it and other pigeons and doves.

Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin
“Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: Americans and Three Birds” with Joel Greenberg
7 pm, September 24, Richardson Auditorium, Morse-Ingersoll Hall
Greenberg, author of A Feathered River Across the Sky, will discuss the pigeon’s extinction in relation to the successful recovery of the Kirtland’s Warbler and the difficulties of saving the Whooping Crane.

See Joel Greenberg’s website for more of his upcoming talks and appearances.

New York State Museum, Albany
“The Passenger Pigeon: Icon of Extinction” with Jeremy Kirchman
1 pm, September 28, Huxley Theater
According to Kirchman, curator of birds at the museum, “By commemorating the centennial of the Passenger Pigeon extinction with an exhibition and free public programs, we hope to remind visitors how over-exploitation of natural resources can lead to permanent loss of biodiversity.”

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art, Auburn, Alabama
“Project Passenger Pigeon” with Joel Greenberg
5 pm, October 2
Greenberg will discuss the extinction following a 3 pm screening of “From Billions to None.”

St. Joseph County Historical Society, Centreville, Michigan
“A Sad Fate: The Passenger Pigeon in Michigan” with Kyle Bagnall
Time TBA, October 19, Centreville Museum
Bagnall, director of the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, Michigan, will discuss the extinction of the bird in the Great Lakes State.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
“Martha’s Flight into the Future: Heresy as Hope” with Christopher Cokinos
6 pm, October 28, Baird Auditorium
Cokinos, author of Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds, says the usual lessons of “remember” and “never again” are failing us at a time of fast-moving environmental change. What was heresy 100 years ago may have saved the pigeon. What are the heresies that may help us and the biosphere today?


Start times are in the time zones of each event’s location.

lost bird posterTwo terrific one-hour documentaries deal with the loss of the pigeon. From Billions to None: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction chronicles the bird’s tragic story. The Lost Bird Project shows an artist who memorializes the pigeon and other extinct species in bronze. Read our review of the films. Here are dates and locations where they are being shown:

From Billions to None

5 pm, September 11
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art, Auburn, Alabama
The film will be presented in conjunction with the exhibit “The Art of Vanishing.”

7 pm, September 11
Galway Arms, Chicago
Attend the monthly “Birds and Beers” event, meet Greenberg, and watch the 10 pm screening of the film on Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW.

6 pm, September 22
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
Hear from David Mrazek, the film’s director, and Greenberg, co-producer and co-writer.

3 pm, October 2
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art, Auburn, Alabama
The film will be presented in conjunction with the exhibit “The Art of Vanishing.”

7 pm, October 22
Richardson Auditorium, Morse-Ingersoll Hall, Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin
The screening will include a discussion with Mrazek.

The Lost Bird Project

7:30 pm, September 8
Audubon Miami Valley, Oxford, Ohio
The screening will be part of Audubon Miami Valley’s monthly meeting.

6:30 pm, September 12
Angels Gate Cultural Arts Center, San Pedro, California
Co-producer/cinematographer Scott Anger, who is a studio artist at the center, will participate in a discussion following the screening.

6:30 pm, September 12
Springfield Conservation Nature Center, Springfield, Missouri
Children’s activities, games, and art projects take place from 6:30-7:30, followed by a short presentation. The film will be shown outdoors at approximately 8 pm. Bring your own chairs and (nonalcoholic) beverages.

1:30 pm and 3 pm, September 13
Springfield Conservation Nature Center, Springfield, Missouri
The screenings will be part of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s day of remembering the state’s extinct birds.

7 pm, September 17
Grange Insurance Audubon Center, Columbus, Ohio
Located in Scioto Audubon Metro Park (Hotspot Near You No. 73) near downtown Columbus. After the screening, talk about the film with Jim McCormac of the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

6 pm, September 23
Venice Audubon Center, Venice, Florida
The Venice Area Audubon Society’s monthly meeting begins at 6 pm, and the screening of the film will start around 7:15 pm.

6:30 pm, October 15
Wild Equity Institute, San Francisco, California
Hosted by the Wild Equity Institute, a non-profit working to unite grassroots conservation and environmental justice movements. Andy Stern, executive director of the Lost Bird Project, will discuss the film.

6 pm, November 20
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
Includes a lecture and book signing with artist, author, and creative director Todd McGrain.

Originally Published

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