The Field Museum hall of birds is as close as I will ever come to seeing several species of North American birds that have become extinct relatively recently.

Great Auk, last seen in 1852. (The bird in the background is a Razorbill, a closely-related species).


Labrador Duck, last seen in 1878.


Passenger Pigeon. It is thought to have once numbered 5 billion individuals and to have made up, on its own, up to 40% of the North American bird population. The last one died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.


Carolina Parakeet. The last one died in a zoo in 1918.


Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The last positive sighting was in 1944. People have claimed to have seen them as recently as 2006, but have presented no solid evidence. My guess is that, at best, it was just wishful thinking by people who saw what they wanted to see.



Eskimo Curlew, last seen in 1962.


The other bird on the list is the Bachman’s Warbler. It was last seen in 1988, nine years after I started birding! I didn’t see a specimen in the Field Museum.

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