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Hot Science Gallery - ISM Springfield

  Hot Science Gallery   

Hot Science Gallery

Distress Calls: Birds of Illinois chronicles the plight of the Passenger Pigeon and the lessons learned from its extinction as well as highlights recently released research by ISM zoologist H. David Bohlen. David’s unprecedented forty-year study, A Study of the Birds of Sangamon County, Illinois, 1970-2010, documents the dramatic changes in the presence and populations of bird species in Sangamon County, which have been broken down and displayed for this exhibit. His two-part compendium explores environmental change, habitat destruction, and degradation by humans as well as outlines methods, conclusions, and recommendations. It also offers a vast compilation of the county’s bird species, many of which have been beautifully photographed and featured on the walls of our Hot Science Gallery in the Changes exhibition.

The release of this study is timely as we are also commemorating the Year of the Passenger Pigeon – the 100th anniversary of the death of the last of the species, Martha, at the Cincinnati Zoo. Passenger pigeons once dominated the United States, with numbers in the billions, and flocks large enough to block out the sun.

“I have seen flocks streaming south in the fall so large that they were flowing over from horizon to horizon in an almost continuous stream all day long, at the rate of forty or fifty miles an hour, like a mighty river in the sky, widening, contracting, descending like falls and cataracts, and rising suddenly here and there in huge ragged masses like high-plashing spray.” John Muir “The Story of my Boyhood and Youth” 1913.

Though their numbers were unparalleled, hunting, trapping, and habitat disturbance managed to drive this once ample and rich food source into an unthinkable extinction. Distress Calls: Birds of Illinois causes us to think about the lessons learned from this loss and to shift our focus to environmental preservation. We are reminded of the very real consequences of taking our natural world for granted.

For Bohlen's Study of the Birds of Sangamon County visit:

Currently on exhibit at the Illinois State Museum, Springfield from June 21, 2014 to January 31, 2015.

Learn about other exhibitions currently at the Illinois State Museum, Springfield.


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