Ornithology since the time of Charles Darwin has made some exciting discoveries that have been important to all the natural sciences. Some of these include finding out that that birds are dinosaurs, discovering that feathers existed before they were used for flight, learning how to use certain DNA techniques to better understand evolution, and developing advanced digital technology to track birds in flight. There have also been some legendary characters in the science of ornithology and some very heated arguments. Tune in tonight when we talk with BOB MONTGOMERIE, Professor of Biology at Queen’s University in Ontario. Together with Tim Birkhead and Jo Wimpenny, they have written one of the great and entertaining histories of science: TEN THOUSAND BIRDS: ORNITHOLOGY SINCE DARWIN.
The Passenger Pigeon once existed in numbers that defy belief. One nesting colony took up 850 square miles. They migrated in flocks that were measured in many miles. These flocks darkened the skies and took hours and even days to pass overhead. A single moving flock near Toronto in 1860 was measured at one to three billion birds. Yet forty years later the Passenger Pigeon was almost extinct and by the early 1900s was never to be seen again. What happened? Tune in to Inquiry tonight when we talk with JOEL GREENBERG, Research Associate of the Field Museum and the Chicago Academy of Sciences Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. His new book lays out all the evidence for the Passenger Pigeon’s sad demise: A FEATHERED RIVER ACROSS THE SKY: THE PASSENGER PIGEON’S FLIGHT TO EXTINCTION.