Once an amazing diversity of birds—some in breathtaking abundance—inhabited the vast forests and plains of North America. But starting around 1600, species began to disappear, as humans altered habitats, over-hunted, and introduced predators.
A notable extinction occurred 100 years ago, with the death of Martha the Passenger Pigeon, the last member of a species that once filled America’s skies.
The story of the last Passenger Pigeon and the disappearance of the Great Auk, Carolina Parakeet, and Heath Hen reveal the fragile connections between species and their environment. Illustrations come from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a global project that is changing the way research is done by digitizing and freely sharing biodiversity publications with scientists and other users around the world.
The Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens present “The Lost Bird Project,” an exhibit by artist Todd McGrain, March 27 through May 15, 2015. This project recognizes the tragedy of modern extinction by immortalizing North American birds that have been driven to extinction. It will feature large-scale bronze sculptures of the Carolina Parakeet, the Labrador Duck, the Great Auk, the Heath Hen and the Passenger Pigeon.
Find more links to exhibition-related images and full-text books from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.