In a landmark tragedy of the US Environmental Movement, Martha—the last passenger pigeon, named in honor of our original First Lady Martha Washington—died at the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914. Perhaps no other event in US history so clearly defined the fact that humans were dramatically impacting the natural environment. When European colonists first arrived, the passenger pigeon was the most abundant wild bird in the US—and possibly in the world. Flying in tight-knit flocks numbering in the billions, passenger pigeons once darkened the skies throughout the US for days on end. Now remaining as the US’s most iconic representative of the horrors of species extinction, Martha’s stuffed remains were kept on display until September 2015 at the Smithsonian Institution from in the exhibit entitled “Once There Were Billions”.
Text excerpted from book: “PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change” written by Budd Titlow and Mariah Tinger and published by Prometheus Books.
Photo credit: Copyright Tim Hough 2013
Author’s bio: For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. “PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change”, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — “COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America” — provides the answers we all seek and need. Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.