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(Compiled by Joel Greenberg)
The passenger pigeon was an abundant resident throughout state from late March through September. Bred in all wooded parts of Minnesota, occasionally in large colonies and often as isolated pairs.
Last Records of the Passenger Pigeon:
After 1880, the species declined quickly until 1895 when the last male, nest, and egg were collected in Minneapolis.
Places Likely Named for Passenger Pigeon:
There are at least 13 places in Minnesota with pigeon in the name:
Pigeon Bay (bay) in Cook County
Pigeon Point (cape) in Cook County
Pigeon Falls (falls) in Cook County
Pigeon River (populated place) in Cook County
Pigeon River (stream) in Cook County, Itasca County
Pigeon Dam (dam) in Itasca County
Pigeon Dam Lake (lake) in Itasca County
Pigeon River Flowage Game Refuge (park) in Itasca County
Pigeon River Impoundment (reservoir) in Itasca County
Pigeon Lake (lake) two in Meeker County and one in St. Louis County
Pigeon Lake (lake) in Meeker County
Passenger pigeon remains have been found at archeological excavations at Farley Village and Little Rapids Dakota Village.
“The Wood Pigeon is nearly the same as ours, and there are such prodigious quantities of them on the banks of the Mississippi, that they will sometimes darken the sun for several minutes.” Jonathan Carver (1766) in Thomas Roberts, Birds of Minnesota (1932).
Countless flocks of Wilds Pigeons pervaded the atmosphere of the Red River Valley during the later part of May and early portion of June 1873. We observed them continually during our voyage down the river, and for some days afterward at Pembina, streaming through the air in endless succession of flocks. They generally flew high, far beyond gunshot, but in early morning and just before nightfall often came low enough to afford a shot.” Elliott Couses, 1878 (in Roberts).
“I remember well the last Pigeon roost there was in this part fo the country; it must be more than fifty years ago. It is almost inconceivable, but the birds were in such numbers as to obscure the sun where they were in flight, and when they settled on the grain-fields in the spring and summer they destroyed much of the crop. They caused such heavy losses . . . that they were mercilessly destroyed in great numbers.” W.J. Mayo, Rochester, 1929 (in Roberts).
The last record for the state, as mentioned above, was the nest, male, and egg taken in June 21, 1895 in Minneapolis. It is, in fact, the last nest and egg known of a wild bird from anywhere. Both the nest and the egg are on display at the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota.
State Locations known to have Passenger Pigeon Skins, Mounts, and or Skeletons:
Collegeville: *St. John’s University
Duluth: University of Minnesota (?)
Minneapolis: 1) *Bell Museum of the University of Minnesota; and 2) Science Museum of Minnesota
* If an asterisk appears, at least one passenger pigeon is known to be on display; this list is mainly based on Hahn's Where is That Vanished Bird (1963). Please let us know of any changes including additional locations and/or birds on display, name changes of institution, if birds are no longer present, etc.
Read Fascinating Historical Accounts of the Passenger Pigeon in Minnesota
Wisconsin’s A.W. [Bill] Schorger (1884-1972) spent many years researching the history of the Passenger Pigeon, and he summarized his findings in his 1955 book, The Passenger Pigeon: Its Natural History and Extinction. At the time of its publication, the book was the most comprehensive account of the species. Schorger did an excellent job summarizing the nearly 10,000 historical records he discovered in libraries and historical societies around the country, but his original research notes contain many additional details.
For the 2014 centennial, Professor Stanley Temple of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has made all Schorger’s handwritten research notes available in digital form. This link will take you to a table that provides details of all the historical records Bill Schorger discovered for Minnesota. [Schorger-MN.pdf]
Read Historical Accounts from Shorger's Original Field Notes about the Passenger Pigeon in Minnesota
These sources are newly available on the Passenger Pigeon site (as of January 25, 2014). The links below give access to often-firsthand, eyewitness accounts of pigeons, the table includes a cross reference to the exact page in Schorger’s notes where you can read the full text of the account and find a citation of the original source document. All these historical documents are in PDF format in sizes ranging from 24mb - 60mb. These documents will open in their own window. Use the links below to find the page containing the account you’re interested in exploring further:
Schorger pages 1-329
Schorger pages 330-632
Schorger pages 633-959
Schorger pages 960-1242
Schorger pages 1243-1585
Schorger pages 1586-1890
Schorger pages 1891-2232
Schorger pages 2233-2556
_________________ Your text contributions on passenger pigeons
in the U.S. or Canada are welcome. Email your text notes to us. Include: first and last name, and the State or Province you reference in the Subject Line. (Return to Home Page Map of Project Passenger Pigeon)
Your text contributions on passenger pigeons
in the U.S. or Canada are welcome. Email your text notes to us. Include: first and last name, and the State or Province you reference in the Subject Line.
(Return to Home Page Map of Project Passenger Pigeon)