Book Review: The Passenger Pigeon by Errol Fuller

By Errol Fuller

An unexpectedly humorous and enthralling illustrated memorial to the extinct North American Passenger Pigeon.

passenger_pigeon_AudubonNaturalist artist and writer Errol Fuller defies the odds and crafts an entertaining historical narrative on an arguably bland subject, the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. The author’s enthusiasm for the bird is infectious and the book reads like a bedtime story or an urban legend told over a campfire. “There are many, many stories like these, all worthy of the telling,” Fuller writes. “But there is one that stands out from the rest, a story so remarkable, so intense, that its elements strain credibility to its limits. It is the story of the Passenger Pigeon, and it is a tale that has everything: great drama, tragedy, intrigue, violence, mystery.”

Passenger Pigeons numbered in the billions at the start of the nineteenth century. The flocks were so large that they blotted out the sun for days at a time. The bird inspired famous writers including Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain, artists, and even marthamusicians. Yet by 1914, after years of slaughter and destruction by technologically advanced European colonizers of North America, only one Passenger Pigeon was left. Her name was Martha and she died alone at the Cincinnati zoo.

Fuller’s book is a beautiful and well-researched study of a highly evolved species forced into extinction by human thoughtlessness and greed. The primary source illustrations and quotations engage the reader while demonstrating the fragility of our natural world. An evocative and visually stunning book for readers of all ages.


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