Babcock, Wisconsin - Site of where the last (wild) Passenger Pigeon was killed in 1899.
Babcock is an unincorporated place (with a post office) southwest of Wisconsin Rapids, in the town of Remington. Its motto is "Birds, Bogs, and Bucks."
The community was named for Joseph W. Babcock, a sawmill operator who purchased the site and built a hotel and a depot.
Above: Depiction of a shooting Passenger Pigeons in northern Louisiana (circa 1875).
It is estimated that, at the time Europeans discovered America, there were 3 billion to 5 billion passenger pigeons.
According to the Smithsonian Institution, early explorers and settlers oftened mentioned passenger pigeons in their writings.
Samuel de Champlain in 1605 reported "countless numbers" and Cotton Mather described a flight as being about a mile in
width and taking several hours to pass overhead. Most early accounts dwell on the vast number of pigeons, the resulting darkened skies,
and the enormous amount of hunted birds (50,000 birds were reportedly sold at a Boston market in 1771).
Yet by the early 1900s no wild passenger pigeons could be found.
In September, 1899, the last known Passenger Pigeon reported in Wisconsin was shot in Babcock, Wisconsin by James Varney while he and companions were hunting Prairie Chickens.
In 1947, the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology placed a monument to the long-gone passenger pigeon at Wyalusing State Park. It reads: "Dedicated to the last Wisconsin Passenger Pigeon shot at Babcock, Sept. 1899. This species became extinct through the avarice and the thoughtlessness of man."
This monument was dedicated by Aldo Leopold and memorialized in his essay "On a Monument to a Pigeon," which was included in A Sand County Almanac.
For more information on Babcock, Wisconsin, visit Wikipedia.
For more information on Passenger Pigeons, visit Wikipedia.
Buy books about Passenger Pigeons at Amazon (Click on image below).
Above: Babcock, Wisconsin.
Coordinates: 44°18′06″N 90°06′40″W
Where the Last Passenger Pigeon Was Killed
Above: Live female in 1896/98, kept in the aviary.
Above: Live male in Charles Otis Whitman's aviary at University of Chicago (1896/98). Whitman sent Martha, which was thought to be the last known specimen, to the Cincinnati Zoo in 1902. (Martha died on September 1, 1914.)
Above: The plaque on the monument in Wyalusing State Park that memorializes the passing of the Passenger Pigeon.
Above: Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold "Passenger Pigeon Essay" read by Connie Barlow at Wisconsin monument in Wyalusing State Park.