Eight sculptures of extinct birds by artist and taxidermist Tom Duran have been delivered to the five sites that will host them through the Fall. His Carolina Parakeet (left) along with the Passenger Pigeon and the Labrador Duck are now on display at The National Aviary on the Northside. Duran writes of the creation of these sculptures: “The collection of carvings representing the extinct birds of North America developed from my youthful interest in Natural History and American History. At an early age, I recognized that both were closely related and defined each other. As a lad of just ten or eleven, it somehow came to be that I was at Frick Park in the company of the Park Naturalist who had in his possession the sorry remains of a Passenger Pigeon. I was impressed in a sad yet exciting sort of way. This was even before I knew anything about taxidermy or woodcarving. As a taxidermist and artist at Carnegie Museum in the years to come I rapidly gained a working knowledge of extinct birds alongside a fellow preparator named Charles Liebrandt who also had a passing interest in extinct birds. With art and taxidermy as a foundation, it was a short step to the vision of a collection of extinct bird carvings. Years later in the Autumn of 1990, I began negotiations with The Carnegie on the possibilities of a long-term project with that goal in mind. With the kind support of The Mellon Family Foundation, this unique collection now exists as part of the M. Graham Netting Animal Portraiture Collection.” Go to the Passport section of this web site for a list of Tom’s birds and where you can see them! You can download our Passport, or pick one up at any of the sculpture venues, then get your Passport stamped with a unique image of each bird! Also see our Calendar for the many educational lectures, exhibitions and performances that are offered this Fall to mark the Centenary.
Passenger Pigeon Pittsburgh is gearing up for several events, exhibitions, and performances from September through December to commemorate the centenary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. These events and displays will center around Pittsburgh venues that will host one or more sculptures by Tom Duran, on loan from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Each sculpture represents one of eight extinct birds. Coinciding with these sculpture venues will be a commemorative “Passport” that visitors can have stamped with an image of the bird residing at each location. Satellite events will include lectures, performances, and exhibitions around the Pittsburgh region.
Activity: Sept. 1, “Draw-In” at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 11am. To kick off the anniversary, artist Ann Rosenthal will host a “Draw-In” at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History on Sept 1, 11am–the date of the demise of Martha, the last passenger pigeon. The public is invited to bring drawing supplies and meet at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s admission desk on Labor Day. $3-off admission vouchers and maps to all passenger pigeon displays will be provided.
Exhibit: Murmurations, Sept. 15 – Dec. 15, Hunt Library (4th Floor), Carnegie Mellon University, 8am -12am. An exhibition of books and more on human and avian relationships. Origami templates from The Passenger Pigeon Origami Project will be available so you can make your own passenger pigeon to take with you or add to the installation. The official count of birds folded and photos of the growing flock will be shared on the virtual national site. For library holiday hours, check here.
Lecture: September 23, 7pm, at The Audubon Society of Western PA, Beechwood Farms. David Scofield, Director of Meadowcroft Rock Shelter and Historic Village, will discuss the site’s archeological history as it relates to the Passenger Pigeon. Meadowcroft is the oldest confirmed human-inhabited site in the New World and possesses one of the largest amounts of Passenger Pigeon remains in North America.
Please see our Calendar (link in menu bar above) for listings of all events and visit often as we will continue to add to it. Also ‘like’ us on Facebook to stay current on our schedule!
What: Talk by Author Joel Greenberg
When: July 15, 7pm (Free!)
Where: Audubon Society of Western PA, Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve
Please join Passenger Pigeon Pittsburgh for the first of many events, exhibitions, displays, and performances throughout the rest of 2014 to mark the 100th anniversary of the last passenger pigeon, Martha!
Our series of events will be initiated by The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, which will host Joel Greenberg, author of A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction (see prior post for info on Joel). Joel will discuss the causes of the Passenger Pigeon’s extinction and what lessons can be learned from its passing. See more info here.
Please visit this site often as we continue to add events and unveil our Passport, which can be stamped at our various events and then can be redeemed for unique prizes! Follow us to stay current!
In 1992, author and historian Joel Greenberg presented Project Passenger Pigeon to a Pittsburgh audience, inviting local institutions and individuals to join him in commemorating the centenary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon in 2014. As we enter this centenary year, Greenberg’s book, A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction (left), has been released to much acclaim, including several reviews and interviews. Greenberg’s aim is to use the centenary as a teachable moment, to seize this anniversary to reflect on the causes of not only the passenger pigeon’s extinction but other species that have been driven to extinction by human ignorance and greed.
“The story of the passenger pigeon is unlike that of any other bird. With a likely population between 3 and 5 billion, it was the most abundant bird in North America and probably the world. Yet human exploitation drove this species to extinction over the course of a few decades” (Greenberg).
Pinpointing the exact date of an extinction is rare—September 1, 1914 marks the death of the last passenger pigeon, Martha, at the Cincinnatti Zoo—and provides us with a unique opportunity to learn from the past to inform how humans and nature can sustainably coexist.
Greenberg has launched a massive effort to bring attention to this watershed year through his Project Passenger Pigeon web site, his book and a film in production. He has developed various teaching aids and has fostered a wide range of activities—lectures; museum displays; and visual, performing, and public art. Numerous institutions are on board across the eastern U.S.
In Pittsburgh, we have launched Project Passenger Pigeon Pittsburgh (P4). See the About page for info about us and our plans for 2014!