Saturday, February 9, 2008


The FedEx ad featuring pigeons (which aired during the Super Bowl and can be seen HERE) piqued my interest in, well, pigeons. Growing up in Cincinnati, I had the opportunity to visit the Cincinnati Zoo on many occasions. One of the most striking exhibits is actually a memorial to the last known passenger pigeon, Martha.

Now, the ad explicitly states that the enterprising young office worker has employed carrier pigeons not passenger pigeons. Unbeknownst to me they are two different pigeons:
Passenger Pigeons are native, wild North American Pigeons while Carrier Pigeons (more appropriately known as Homing Pigeons) are domestic pigeons that were trained and used in WWII to carry messages. They are totally different birds! Homing Pigeons are still popular used today in the sport of Racing Pigeons and seldom used to carry messages today. [SOURCE]
Learn something new everyday. And in an effort to learn y'all something as well, I present the demise of two birds (from a list of eight in the book), from The New Book of Lists:
4. Passenger Pigeon, September 1, 1914
These brownish grey pigeons were once so numerous that a passing flock could darken the sky for days. As recently as 1810, an estimated 2,230,272,000 pigeons were sighted in one flock. But massive hunting by settlers and a century of forest destruction eliminated the passenger and its native forest habitat. In 1869, 7,500,000 pigeons were captured in a single nesting raid. In 1909, a $1,500 reward was offered for a live nesting pair, but none could be found. Martha, the last of the passenger pigeons, died of old age, September 1, 1914, in the Cincinnati Zoo.

5. Carolina Parakeet, February 21, 1918
The striking green and yellow Carolina parakeet was once common in the forests of the eastern and southern United States, but because of the widespread crop destruction it caused, farmers hunted the bird to extinction. The last Carolina parakeet, an old male, named Incas, died in the Cincinnati Zoo February 21, 1918. The zoo's general manager believed it died of grief over the loss of Lady Jane, its mate of 30 years, the previous summer.
This isn't meant to be an ad for the conservation efforts of the Cincinnati Zoo, but if you're ever in Cincinnati I highly advise you check the place out. My favorite is the Insect House. And since this post is apparently meandering out of my control, it ends here.

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