Latest News and Upcoming Events
Numbering in the billions, the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America if not the world. As late as 1860, a single flight near Toronto likely exceeded a billion birds and maybe three billion. Yet because of unrelenting human exploitation for food and recreation, the last of the wild birds were killed around 1900 and the last of the species died in a Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914. The story of this bird is unique in human history and the lessons that it offers are critically important 100 years later.
Gone and nearly forgotten, the Labrador Duck, Great Auk, Heath Hen, Carolina Parakeet and Passenger Pigeon have left a hole in the American landscape and in our collective memory. Moved by their stories, sculptor Todd McGrain set out to bring their vanished forms back into the world by permanently placing his elegant, evocative bronze memorials at the location of each bird’s demise.
The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), headquartered at the Smithsonian Libraries, welcomes Washington University Libraries (St. Louis, Missouri) as a new member. The 14th member of the BHL consortium, Washington University Libraries will help identify and digitize historical science literature from its collections and add these to the BHL’s online holdings, where all materials may be accessed free by the public.
The Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens will present “The Lost Bird Project,” an exhibit by artist Todd McGrain, March 27 through March 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.
Situated at the center of the world’s largest museum complex, the Smithsonian Libraries is a vital part of the research, exhibition, and educational enterprise of the Institution. Each Smithsonian scholar engages in an individual voyage of discovery using the artifacts and specimens of the Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with the Libraries’ written and illustrated record of the past. The Libraries is uniquely positioned to help scholars understand the continuing vitality of this relationship, via exceptional research resources ranging from 13th-century manuscripts to electronic journals.