Review: The Passenger Pigeon by Errol Fuller

The Passenger Pigeon
by Errol Fuller, 2014.
Princeton University Press.
184 pp. 7 x 9 1/2
ISBN: 9781400852208

This is the best book to read to introduce yourself to the story of the passenger pigeon. If you are already familiar with the passenger pigeon, perhaps from reading Joel Greenberg’s recent, and more comprehensive, book, A Feathered River Across the Sky, or the classic book by Arlie Schorger, there will be little new in the text, but the familiar stories are told well, and Fuller’s book is the best-looking one. Many of the photos have been published before, but there are also loads of new photographs of museum specimens and recent artwork. Many of the illustrations cover a full page or more, and are in color.

One truly new contribution is an appendix by Julian Pender Hume that describes the osteology, and to a lesser extent, the musculature and wing shape, of the passenger pigeon in comparison to the ubiquitous rock dove (Columba livia) and the pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri), which is found on the island of Mauritius. In this section, unfortunately, there is only one photo of the bones from the three species, and descriptions of the differences between the pigeon species are not as useful without illustrations or more measurements. The source of the passenger pigeon skeleton used in the comparison is not given.