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Richardson Lecture Series: Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Date: Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Time: 7:00 pm

Location: Richardson Auditorium,
Morse-Ingersoll Hall

Contact: Dan Bartlett,

Environment, Extinction, and History – The 2014 Richardson Lecture Series

The lecture series is supported by the Richardson Lecture Fund, named in honor of former History Professor Robert “Dickie” Richardson, and the Mellon Foundation Labs Across the Curriculum grant.

Hope is the Thing with Feathers: Americans and Three Birds

Joel Greenberg

Research Associate at the Chicago Academy of Science’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and The Field Museum

This talk looks at three birds, each representing a different outcome at the hands of people.  With a population in the billions, the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America, if not the world. Yet within a matter of decades, unrelenting human exploitation drove it to extinction. The Kirtland's warbler has since historical times bred in a very limited range and within that tiny area could only breed in jack pines of a certain height and age. In addition, they are heavily parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds. In 1971, there were less than 200 singing males but today, although it costs a million dollars a year, we now know how to maintain healthy populations. The whooping crane was in even more dire straits, having declined to 23 living individuals twice. Extensive conservation work has been devoted to saving this charismatic species, but its fate is still an open question.

Joel Greenberg Joel Greenberg has over 25 years experience working on natural resource related issues in the Midwest. Currently a Research Associate of both the Chicago Academy of Sciences Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Field Museum, he has authored four books including A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction, published in January 2014 by Bloomsbury USA. For the past four years he has been a leader in Project Passenger Pigeon which aims to mark the anniversary of the species' extinction. He is co-produced, with director David Mrazek, the documentary From  Billions to None: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction. Greenberg has JD and MA degrees from Washington University.

A complete listing of the Passenger Pigeon events can be viewed here.

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General, Logan Museum