The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), now extinct, was endemic
to North America. Sometimes confused with the mourning dove, the male
pigeons were 39 to 41 cm (15.4 to 16.1 in) in length and mainly gray
on the upperparts, with iridescent bronze feathers on the neck and black
spots on the wings; the females were duller and browner. They inhabited
mainly deciduous forests in eastern North America, primarily around the
Great Lakes. Migrating in enormous flocks, they were once the most
abundant bird species in North America, with a population of perhaps 3
to 5 billion. They could reach flying speeds of 100 km/h (62 mph). The
birds fed on nuts, seeds, fruits and invertebrates. They practiced
communal roosting and communal breeding. In the 19th century, when
widespread deforestation was destroying their habitat, they were
commercialized as cheap food and hunted voraciously. Martha, thought to
be the last passenger pigeon, died on September 1, 1914, at the
Cincinnati Zoo. Eradication of the species has been described as one of
the most senseless extinctions induced by humans.
Today’s selected anniversaries:
Sancti Spiritu, the first European settlement in Argentina, was
destroyed by local natives.
Louis XIV of France, the “Sun King”, died after a reign of 72
years, longer than any other French or other major European monarch at
Pope Gregory XVI established the Order of St. Gregory the Great
to recognize high support for the Holy See or for the Pope.
The Fountain of Time opened in Chicago as a tribute to the 100
years of peace between the United States and Great Britain following the
Treaty of Ghent.
Soviet jet interceptors shot down the civilian airliner Korean
Air Lines Flight 007 near Sakhalin Island in the North Pacific, killing
all 246 passengers and 23 crew on board.
Wiktionary’s word of the day:
(US, idiomatic) A small clump of dust, fluff, hair, particles of skin,
etc., that tends to accumulate indoors in areas not regularly dusted,
such as under heavy furniture.
Wikiquote quote of the day:
As he had grown older, he found that he had grown away from his
people. Their interests and his were far removed. They had not kept pace
with him, nor could they understand aught of the many strange and
wonderful dreams that passed through the active brain of their human
king. So limited was their vocabulary that Tarzan could not even talk
with them of the many new truths, and the great fields of thought that
his reading had opened up before his longing eyes, or make known
ambitions which stirred his soul. Among the tribe he no longer had
friends as of old. A little child may find companionship in many strange
and simple creatures, but to a grown man there must be some semblance of
equality in intellect as the basis for agreeable association.
–Edgar Rice Burroughs
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