Saturday, April 4, 2015

Passenger Pigeons & John Burroughs Day

There are so many cool things happening at the Phoenicia Library it is hard to keep up. Here is the schedule for Saturday, April 18th.

Passenger Pigeon & John Burroughs Day Saturday, April 18th with Exhibit, Talks, Story Telling, Refreshment and Visit by Live Homing Pigeons
10:30 – 1 pm           
An exhibit on the life and tragic extinction of the passenger pigeon will be on display at the Phoenicia Library in Phoenicia NY from April 15th through the end of April.  Sponsored by John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge, the ten-panel exhibit is a lament for a bird that once darkened the skies over our region, but which was hunted to extinction within the lifetime of the Roxbury-born naturalist (1837-1921). The last captive passenger pigeon died September 1, 1914.
On Saturday, April 18th, the library will host “John Burroughs and a Feathered Frenzy,” a day of discovery about our Catskills natural heritage.  The schedule will include:

10:30 AM  "From Billions to None: What Happened to the Passenger Pigeon?" with Diane Galusha, author.  This year is the 100th anniversary of the passing of the last passenger pigeon, a species that once dominated our skies.  Diane will tell us about these beautiful birds as well as the naturalist John Burroughs who appreciated these birds as an integral part of our Catskills naturescape.

11:15 AM  “ Words of John Burroughs” with Brett Barry, Producer/Narrator of John Burroughs: Afloat and Afoot ~ an audio celebration of John Burroughs, famous Catskill native and naturalist.

12 PM  Live Homing Pigeons with Mickey Gramowski with
Live Story Telling:  Carrier Pigeons in World War I, with professional story teller Jean Druffner, best for ages 8 and up

The exhibit, developed and designed by the Chicago Museum of Science and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, includes a locally produced panel about Burroughs and his sightings of and comments on this amazing bird.
In the year 1800, more than five billion passenger pigeons crisscrossed the skies of the eastern United States and Canada, perhaps a quarter of the continent’s avifauna. The species occurred only in North America, primarily east of the Rocky Mountains, and bred almost exclusively in the eastern deciduous forest. Passing flocks could darken the skies for three days straight.  The beats of their wings would create drafts that chilled the people over whom they flew.
Naturalist Burroughs recalled being transfixed by the sight of huge flocks descending on his family’s Roxbury farmstead. “In my boyhood the vast armies of the passenger pigeons were one of the most notable spring tokens. Often late in March, or early in April, the naked beechwoods would suddenly become blue with them, and vocal with their soft, childlike calls; all day the sky would be streaked with the long lines or dense masses of the moving armies.”
However, in the face of relentless slaughter for food and recreation, coupled with habitat loss, this seemingly inexhaustible resource was depleted in just a few decades. By 1900 the species was virtually extinct, and on the afternoon of September 1, 1914, Martha, the last of her species, died in the Cincinnati Zoo.
For more information on the passenger pigeon, its life, demise and legacy, visit  For more information on John Burroughs or Woodchuck Lodge, visit
The library is at 48 Main Street, Phoenicia NY.  All programs are free and open to the public.  For more information on the library please visit