Smithsonian Libraries Unveils “Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America”

Once an amazing diversity of birds—some in breathtaking abundance—inhabited the vast forests and plains of North America. But starting around 1600, some 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 Smithsonian Libraries’ exhibition “Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America” tells the story of the last passenger pigeon and the disappearance of the great auk, Carolina parakeet and heath hen that reveal the fragile connections between species and their environment. The exhibition is on view at the National Museum of Natural History June 24 through October 2015.