[Tweeters] Passenger Pigeon coming back?

Hal Michael ucd880 at comcast.net
Thu Apr 11 07:34:23 PDT 2013

Another aspect of PP extinction is that while they were very abundant, they had a very low individual annual recruitment rate.  They laid a couple of eggs, but as with all pigeons, the nest was flimsy so they lost a lot of eggs and young.  the mindset then was that an abundant resource could sustain high harvests.  "Sustainable" harvest rates may have been very low.


That may have been why they were colonial nesters ; they overwhelmed the nest predators. 


Hal Michael
Olympia WA
360-459-4005 (H)
360-791-7702 (C)
ucd880 at comcast.net

----- Original Message -----
From: "Wayne Weber" < contopus @ telus .net>
To: "TWEETERS" <tweeters at u. washington . edu >
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 1:28:50 AM
Subject: RE: [Tweeters] Passenger Pigeon coming back?



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 accepted.


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 @ telus .net




From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u. washington . edu [ mailto :tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u. washington . edu ] On Behalf Of Larry Schwitters
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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