Birds you see everyday are not safe from extinction Museum mount of the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha, that died in 1914 (Carl Hansen / Smithsonian)
Birds you see everyday are not safe from extinction
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Pigeons today are very common. So common that youd think they are indestructible. But think again. The pigeon you find practically all over the world today is the Rock Dove. It comes from the same family as the Passenger Pigeon.

Passenger Pigeons were once abundant. People assumed they could never go extinct. They were freely shot, netted, and smoked out of nests until they did go extinct. That was 100 years ago.

Even bird species that seem common are vulnerable to extinction from human impacts. Features of a birds life history may intersect with human activities for a lethal outcome.

The Passenger Pigeon had a habit of hanging out in huge flocks. That allowed hunters and trappers to kill hundreds at a time. For the infamous Dodo bird of Mauritius, its habit of nesting on the ground made it easy prey for rats and pigs. For todays familiar Rock Dove, some other feature of its life history may eventually be its downfall.

Scientists who study birds are called ornithologists. They work to understand what factors drive birds to extinction. They use fossil and historical evidence to peer into bird populations in the past. That provides evidence about cause and effect. The history of bird extinctions on islands is especially dramatic. That's because of their isolation.

You can find out how native bird species on the Hawaiian Islands went from hundreds to handfuls. Join us Thursday, Dec. 11. A Smithsonian Science How live webcast titled Bird Extinctions: Time Travel Through Lava Tubes, will air at 11 am and 2 pm (ET) on the National Museum of Natural History's Q?rius website.

Dr. Helen James, a paleo-ornithologist at the National Museum of Natural History, will appear live. She will discuss and answer questions.

Get teaching resources to support your webcast experience and be sure to watch for Smithsonian museum happenings as part of Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America.

Assigned 21 times


COMMENTS (14)
  • AddyS-Mau
    12/10/2014 - 11:34 a.m.

    1. The rock dove
    2.It habit of nesting on ground
    3.ornithologist
    4.discuss and anwers quest

  • JoshG-Mau
    12/10/2014 - 11:35 a.m.

    1.Rock dove

    2,rats and pigs

    3,ornithologists

    4,they use fossil and historical evidence to peer into bird populations

    5,
    A blue jay

  • TrinityO-Mau
    12/10/2014 - 11:36 a.m.

    1. rock dove 2. 3.

  • AlainaT-Mau
    12/10/2014 - 11:36 a.m.

    1 2
    bove there habet is to be in a huge flock so it is easy to kill hundreds fast.

    3 4 5
    orgyolygest look for bird fosles. I don't have a favorite bird.

  • CooperG-Mau
    12/10/2014 - 11:37 a.m.

    1.The pigeons real name is a rock dove.

    2.Its habit of nesting on the ground.

    3.They are called ornithologists.

    4.They try to find out why some birds are going extinct.

    5.My favorite type of bird is the blue jay I don't want that bird to go extinct.

  • KaysaunH-Mau
    12/10/2014 - 11:38 a.m.

    1.. Rock dove.

    2.They were freely ,shot,netted,and,smoked out of there nest.

    3.ornitholgists.

    4.study birds

    5.the rock dove because it cleans the beaches and a lot of places

  • TrentM-Mau
    12/10/2014 - 11:38 a.m.

    1. Rock dove.

    2.they where freely,shot ,netted and smoked out of there nest.

    3.ornithologists.

    4.study birds

    5. the Rock dove because it cleans the beaches and a lot of places

  • DavidF-Mau
    12/10/2014 - 11:38 a.m.

    1.Rock Dove 2. nesting on the ground 3. ornithologists 4.

  • NoahH-Mau
    12/10/2014 - 11:39 a.m.

    Passenger Pigeon.
    people assumed they would not go extinct.
    ornithologists
    study birds.
    I do not want the Oriole bird to go extinct.

  • KadenD-Mau
    12/15/2014 - 11:32 a.m.

    that is bad because if pigeons go extinct then all the roachs and mice and rats will start coming out and that is why it is bad

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