Sad Victory Over Greatest Bird #nature #poem #poetry #birdwatching #birds

Passenger pigeons by Audubon

Once upon a time,
Once there was a land
Where one bird
out of every two
Was gray with throat of cinnamon.

Their flocks eclipsed the sun
When migration season came.
One shotgun blast would bring down
Two dozen,
Without the need to aim.

With numbers in the trillions,
A breeding colony
Might blanket fifty miles
With its sovereignty.

And we killed them all.

They could lay waste to fields
But someone must have seen
Their numbers falling fast
And known what that would mean.

It took us several decades,
Less than a century
Of ruthless persecution
Of this farmers’ enemy.

To kill them all.

Do any mourn today
An action so draconian
While viewing stuffed remains
Of the last one
In the Smithsonian?

The last passenger pigeon.

By Kate Rauner

The last passenger pigeon

Thanks to karlshuker for his post on the passenger pigeon. Visit for a fascinating look into de-extinction. Reconstructing the passenger pigeon is their flagship project.

Their aim is to increase forest health and biodiversity, especially what’s been lost since the 1700s. Like wildfires, passenger pigeons were a major source of beneficial forest regeneration in eastern North America for tens of thousands of years.

Revive & Restore’s goal is “to hatch the first generation of new passenger pigeons by 2022 and begin trial wild releases ten years later.” Genome sequencing is already underway. Wow.


Rewilding with Extinct Species

wooly mammoth public domain

Will the wooly mammoth remain extinct? public domain

Science will soon be able to recreate extinct species , at least where viable DNA can be recovered from museum specimens. The Spanish bucardo, a wild sheep, has already been cloned. Scientists are also at work to reconstruct passenger pigeons and Tasmanian tigers, but the holy grail will be to bring back the wooly mammoth.

Not everyone thinks we should bring back extinct species. We can’t even protect the endangered species on Earth today, so diverting resources may be foolish. In most cases, ecosystems have changed so it is not clear the animals could ever be turned loose into the wild. But the public excitement these species could generate might slop over to help protect less charismatic creatures. I like this last argument. Perhaps the wooly mammoth could carry the banner for all endangered species. Plus, it would be really cool to see a living, breathing mammoth.