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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Last of the Passenger Pigeons

The flight from abundance to extinction

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The passenger pigeon was abundant in early America but, astonishingly, was extinct by the first years of the 20th century. These broadly muscled birds lived in massive flocks and could be seen covering the skies. Sadly, hunting and habitation loss led to their demise and by 1914, the last known passenger pigeon had died in captivity.

Naturalist Joel Greenberg has produced the first major work on the species in sixty years with a new book entitled A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction. This fascinating and provocative tale sheds light on this mighty bird and tells a sweeping story that is part history and part environmental outcry. Rich in research, A Feathered River Across the Sky is a breathtaking look at the natural world and the shocking factors that led to the passenger pigeon’s extinction. Longtime naturalists as well as novice environmentalists will find this book to be compelling in its depth, rich detail and expansive knowledge.

Greenberg is a Research Associate at the Chicago Academy of Sciences’ Nature Museum and the author of three previous books, including A Natural History of the Chicago Region. Greenberg will be the featured speaker at a free event at Milwaukee’s Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center (1500 E. Park Place) at 7 p.m., Monday, March 31. This event is co-sponsored by Boswell Book Co.

 

 

Book Happening

 

Scott Jacobs

7 p.m., April 2

Barnes & Noble, Brookfield Square

95 N. Moorland Road

Scott Jacobs has been the Chicago Sun-Times’ urban affairs editor, but grew up in southeast Wisconsin and got his start with the old Milwaukee Sentinel. In his essay collection, Famous Ski Hills in Wisconsin (and Other Delusions of Grandeur), Jacobs waxes humorous and nostalgic on the state of his boyhood memories. Wisconsin will never vie with Colorado as America’s skiing capital, but it has Little Switzerland, established by an enterprising Badger who noticed a cow pasture on the slope of Holy Hill where scant exposure to sunlight provided a bed of snow well into spring.