From Billions to None
Passenger Pigeons were once among the most prolific of all bird species, traveling in massive flocks across the middle of North America. Unfortunately for the Passenger Pigeon, it made a tasty meal for humans. With the advent of the telegram and the railroad, the location of the flocks could be tracked and the birds shipped to large population centers on the East Coast. The birds were hunted to extinction in a very short time.
There are several similarities between the ill-fated Passenger Pigeon and the Tricolored Blackbird of California’s Central Valley. Tricolored Blackbirds are on the edge of extinction because they nest in massive colonies, as did the Passenger Pigeon. Because the wetlands of the Central Valley, where the Tricolored Blackbirds traditionally nested, have been converted to agriculture, the birds now nest in farmers' fields. Unfortunately, the fields are ready to be harvested before the young birds can leave the nest. The California Audubon Society has volunteers to find the nesting birds and pays the farmers to delay the harvest. It costs approximately $1 to save each bird. I hope to be able to save 1000 Tricolored Blackbirds with the sale of this painting.