Ectopistes migratorius 

The Passenger Pigeon



Habitat and Distribution

The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes  migratorius) was native to the deciduous forests of North America.  It made its home in oak and beech trees from Montana to Southern Ontario and as far north as Nova Scotia down to Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Georgia.



Citation: Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."







          The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was given its name partially for its migratory behavior.  Passenger pigeons migrated in enormous flocks sometimes containing hundreds of thousands of birds.  When large flocks flew by they often darkened the sky for hours to days.  The passenger pigeons moved to the north every year in early March and then headed back south at the first sign of cold in the fall.  They moved from one area to the next very rapidly.  It was estimated that they flew in irregular shaped flocks at speeds up to 60 miles per hour.  Their speed often caused a cool wind on the land as they passed overhead. Passenger pigeon flocks did not have a definite leader so they chose nesting areas based on food supply.  The flocks did not fly at one particular height; it varied based on the weather and landscape of the earth.  The flocks sometimes crossed bodies of water but always very reluctantly because of fog.  If there was heavy fog in the area the pigeons would become confused of their direction, drown, and then be found the next day dead on the shore.  The migration pattern of the passenger pigeon made the event unforgettable for all of those who witnessed it. 


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