Today is September 1st, 2014, and marks the 100th anniversary of the death of the last Passenger Pigeon in a Cincinnati zoo. That last bird, named Martha, represented the culmination of an unimaginable feat: the final destruction of what had been the most populous species on the planet. When we think of Passenger Pigeons, we recall stories of them blackening the skies, of masses of them snapping the groaning trunks of great forest trees, of storms of swirling birds battering themselves to death against the barns and walls erected in their flight paths by the burgeoning settler society that was at the same time hunting and eating them to extinction. It’s a truly unpleasant reminder of what we, as a species under capitalism, are capable of when we really put our minds to it. Are we capable of anything else?
Martha is on display at the Smithsonian museum in DC until September, as part of an exhibit on multitudinous extinct birds entitled Once There Were Billions. Probably worth checking out!
I made a print about the Passenger Pigeon, pictured above, which you can check out here.