West Virginia

West Virginia counties. This image is a work of a United States Census Bureau employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

There are at least five prehistoric sites in West Virginia where passenger pigeon has been found. The earliest site is the Mandy Walters Cave in Pendleton County, which dates to the Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene. Ectopistes has also been identified at the Middle Woodland Fairchance Village site and the Henderson Rocks Site (46-TA-1) in Taylor County. At least one passenger pigeon was identified from the Fort Ancient occupation of the Mount Carbon (46-FA-7) site in Fayette County.

Buffalo Village (46-PU-31) in Putnam County is a post-Contact Native American site dating to the 17th century A.D. Thirty different species of birds were identified at this site. There were only 4 passenger pigeon bones, compared to over 3,000 turkey bones. Soil from the site, excavated in the early 1960s, was not screened, undoubtedly resulting in many small sized bones being completely missed during excavation. Passenger pigeon is not the only extinct bird species found at this site: a Carolina parakeet bone and an ivory-billed woodpecker (which may or may not be extinct) bone were also found at Buffalo Village.

Know of any other archaeological sites in West Virginia with passenger pigeon? Please let us know.

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