[Tweeters] Passenger Pigeon coming back?

Wayne Weber contopus at telus.net
Thu Apr 11 01:28:50 PDT 2013


You are incorrect about at least one thing- the cause of extinction. There
is widespread consensus that habitat loss, by the destruction of the
unbroken eastern deciduous forest, was at least as important as market
hunting as a cause of extinction. As long as large intact areas of forest
remained, where Passenger Pigeons could breed successfully without
disturbance, market hunting may have caused a significant drop in numbers,
but was unable to cause extinction. Check the "Passenger Pigeon" account in
"Birds of North America"-- you will find that what I say is widely

Passenger Pigeons normally nested in huge colonies covering many square
miles. Their social behavior made them uniquely vulnerable to extinction,
once the human population reached a certain level. They appeared to be
unable to breed successfully without the "social facilitation" of thousands
of other individuals breeding and attempting to breed nearby. Habitat loss
alone could never have caused their extinction, nor could large-scale
hunting alone, but the two factors combined, given their inability to breed
successfully except in large colonies, spelled the doom of the species.

Wayne C. Weber

Delta, BC

contopus at telus.net

From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu
[mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Larry
Sent: April-10-13 5:47 PM
To: Michelle Landis
Cc: tweeters message
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Passenger Pigeon coming back?

Hi Michelle rabble-rouser,

I've inserted some responses behind your questions in purple.

Larry Schwitters


On Apr 10, 2013, at 11:24 AM, Michelle Landis wrote:

I hate to be a rabble-rouser, but I had a couple of questions while watching
the Ted video. Passenger Pigeons existed in the millions perhaps the most
numerous vertebrate in the history of the earth. before we did what humans
do. The specific cause was market hunting. Same deal with the American
Bison. In both cases our species felt the motivation to shoot every last
one of them. If we brought them back, do we have the ecosystem for them to
thrive in now? Their closest living relative is the Band-tailed Pigeon,
which would be holding its own if we stopped shooting them. What do they
eat? They don't eat anything. They just lie around in museum collection
drawers. If it's seeds and grass, are they going to be spreading
genetically-modified grains all over the country? Are they going to be
low-level carriers of pesticides/herbicides? Are we going to use them for
food for humans (again)? If we do...will we then be the
top-of-the-food-chain consumers of the toxins they have eaten? Will we
suddenly have a plague of pigeons the likes of which Madagascar is
undergoing with locusts right now? Let us not forget that birds can be an
important natural population control on insects. You need to talk to some
Mormons about locusts and gulls. I'm sure people are thinking of these
things, but I didn't hear it addressed in the talk. I would suggest that
most people who are thinking of those things are the ones who hold the view
that the earth is here for the benefit of our species. None of them crossed
my mine. Of course, I was at work while listening to this, which means I'm
chasing around eight puppies and it's entirely possible (highly probable) I
missed something.

Michelle Landis

Lynden, WA

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