Talk:Passenger pigeon

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Featured articlePassenger pigeon is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on September 1, 2016.
Did You KnowOn this day... Article milestones
January 2, 2016Good article nomineeListed
March 11, 2016Featured article candidatePromoted
March 23, 2012Peer reviewReviewed
Did You Know A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on January 25, 2016.
The text of the entry was: Did you know ... that in 19th-century America, any amateur hunter could kill six passenger pigeons in a single shot (shooting pictured)?
On this day... Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on September 1, 2012, September 1, 2014, September 1, 2017, September 1, 2018, and September 1, 2021.
Current status: Featured article

Winter sports in northern Louisiana[edit]

From "Relationship with humans", subsection"Hunting", last paragraph: "The most often reproduced of these illustrations was captioned "Winter sports in northern Louisiana: shooting wild pigeons", and published in 1875." Is there a public domain picture of this that could be added to the article? Axl ¤ [Talk] 13:33, 1 September 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is this one in the article:[1] You think the article caption should be closer to the original one? FunkMonk (talk) 13:43, 1 September 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not just the caption! The picture should be moved to be alongside the paragraph where it is mentioned.
Currently, the picture of people with rifles/shotguns is alongside a paragraph about Native Americans who used poles/stones/clubs. Axl ¤ [Talk] 19:24, 1 September 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, that paragraph also mentions another image in the article, which is under "extinction causes" now. There simply isn't room to move them all up to the same paragraph without creating major clutter, or ugly double-images. Also, the photo of the trapper takes up all the space in that part. The images have been placed in sections where they are relevant, not necessarily the exact paragraphs, but that's the best we can do with the layout as is. The Lousiana image is used as the first image in the "hunting" section exactly because it is so well-known, and iconic for that particular subject. FunkMonk (talk) 19:39, 1 September 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Influence on forest ecosystem"[edit]

Elagi, I think that new material needs to be integrated better. My main concern is that it partly duplicates, partly contradicts content that is dealt with in the earlier Passenger_pigeon#Ecology_and_behavior section, specifically the second-to last paragraph of the main section (starting with The bird is believed to have played a significant ecological role in the composition of pre-Columbian forests). Did you take that section into account at all?

Secondarily, you also introduce a number of duplicate refs (within your new text) that should be unified. --Elmidae (talk · contribs) 07:57, 23 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Elmidae, I did consider that section. That section is about the influence that passenger pigeons had on the ecosystem they inhabited. The section I added was about the influence that Native Americans had on passenger pigeons through their environment. Both passenger pigeons and Native Americans acted as keystone species within that ecosystem, so there were some parallels in their influences. For example, passenger pigeons caused limbs to break and foliage beneath the trees to die. Thus there was ample fuel for fires, and Native Americans lit those fires. They were both part of the same ecosystem, so their were bound to be links between them, but I don't think there's any contradiction between the two passages.
In any case, I think it makes better sense to add material about human impact on passenger pigeons through their environment to the section titled "Relationship with humans" than to put it under "Ecology and behavior." I see this material as being more about human impact than about the ecosystem itself. I was thinking that eventually, someone might add to it, and discuss how the environment was altered after Europeans arrived and the country was founded, and explain how that affected the passenger pigeon and contributed to their extinction. (I haven't researched that part in detail, but I've seen references to the impact of deforestation, for example.)
As far as the duplicate references go, I'm aware of the problem, but there's a trade off involved. I've found that I can add a URL to a book citation that links directly to the passage in google books that I'm referencing -- or at least to the start of that passage. I think that's a useful convenience for readers, but unfortunately, adding a distinct URL to each citation seems to result in multiple citations for the same book. I think that giving specific page numbers may do the same thing. I'd like to find a solution that allows for distinct URLs and distinct page numbers without cluttering up the citations, but I haven't found it. I'd welcome any tips if someone knows how to accomplish that. --Elagi (talk) 09:10, 23 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for your response, Elagi. Hum-hom. On rereading the stuff, I suppose you have a point. It would make for a rather unwieldy big section to combine these angles. Nor is the contradiction (I was thinking of the implied acceptance of the "giant flock size is standard state" hypothesis in the former section, and the relativizing of that in the latter) really apparent unless you specifically go looking for it. Okay, objection withdrawn :)
As for the referencing issue, your current setup is certainly something to be avoided, because the references look entirely identical in the article. I would suggest using the short citation format, which does have support for providing individual URLs for page numbers (didn't know that either). Does that meet your requirements? --Elmidae (talk · contribs) 09:40, 23 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I think there is a problem with too much detail here, in addition to duplicate refs and contradictions. Wikipedia articles are supposed to summarise the subject, but whats happening now is giving way too much focus to one particular aspect of the subject, breaking the overall balance of the article. The article is already very long, is featured, and I don't agree it needs this much more text on a single subject, which could easily be summarised. Maybe a separate article about the ecology of this bird could be split off before this article is bloated beyond readability. FunkMonk (talk) 14:40, 23 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, Elmidae, for your suggestion about how to handle the citations. That looks like a good possibility. I see your point about the new material appearing to relativize the "giant flock size is standard state" hypothesis, but I think ultimately it reinforces it — both because the combined human and passenger pigeon DNA evidence supports that hypothesis, and because the material about Native Americans positively affecting both food supply and accessibility undercuts the assumption that Native American hunting and food competition would have suppressed passenger pigeon numbers. And FunkMonk, that's part of why I think this material is of enough interest to be worth taking up some space. I think it contributes useful information regarding the larger question of flock size in prehistory. On the other hand, I do understand your concern about breaking the overall balance of the article or adding unduly to its overall length. I'll take a look at it again and see if it could be constructively condensed down further — but in larger terms, I do think that a section on "Relationship with humans" is incomplete without addressing the ecological interplay that existed in that relationship over the course of about fifteen thousand years. --Elagi (talk) 17:01, 23 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What were the motivations for hunting the Passenger pigeon?[edit]

The article details the widespread hunting of the Passenger pigeon, evidently at least a primary cause of its extinction. But the motivations for hunting do not seem to be discussed in any detail. Was the Passenger pigeon easy to shoot? Was it difficult and therefore a challenge to shoot? Did farmers shoot it to prevent crop destruction? Was the Passenger pigeon desired and used as cooked food? How widespread was the serving or eating of Passenger pigeon as meat? Details on these motivations for hunting (and their relative importance) would be helpful in understanding the extinction of the Passenger pigeon. David Spector (talk) 18:52, 6 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, all of this is already explained in the article, in the hunting section. Some quotes "The passenger pigeon was of particular value on the frontier, and some settlements counted on its meat to support their population.", "In the early 19th century, commercial hunters began netting and shooting the birds to sell as food in city markets, and even as pig fodder. Once pigeon meat became popular, commercial hunting started on a prodigious scale.", "Passenger pigeons were shot with such ease that many did not consider them to be a game bird", and "Passenger pigeons were also seen as agricultural pests, since entire crops could be destroyed by feeding flocks.". FunkMonk (talk) 18:58, 6 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My observation was that hunting motivations were not "discussed in any detail" and you have confirmed it. It is natural to wonder how these motivations rank. Which was the main motivation for hunting the Passenger pigeon to extinction? Which was the least important motivation? We should not be satisfied with such superficial information. David Spector (talk) 19:03, 6 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If no one ever "ranked" them (which is a silly notion to begin with), which none of the authoritative modern sources do, it doesn't really matter what we are satisfied with or not. Humans hunt animals and destroy forests for a variety of reasons, and all we can do is present them, not "rank" them. The main causes are summarised under extinction, but as usual with extinctions, a single main reason can never be pinpointed (which would be too simplistic anyway), only the contributing factors. And the issue is still debated (how important was each factor?), so we can't be more certain than the sources here just for the sake of it. FunkMonk (talk) 19:17, 6 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Okay, I wasn't familiar with the authoritative modern sources, but I bow to your impressive and amazing knowledge of all of them. If no one has delved deeper into the causes of the extinction, then we certainly cannot say more in WP, which must reflect RSs. Thank you. I hadn't realized that the article truly reflected the limited state of our knowledge. I withdraw my suggestion. David Spector (talk) 21:22, 6 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, even if I have not read every single paper or book itself, the theories and studies involved are summarised repeatedly in other sources. FunkMonk (talk) 13:09, 2 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

FRINGE claim[edit]

This is a strange claim that should be directly attributed, not put into Wikipedia's own voice: "Reviving the passenger pigeon may help conserve woodland biodiversity in the eastern US." This is not a statement that most scientists, including ecologists, zoologists, and others, would agree with. I.e., it is a WP:FRINGE viewpoint.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  20:33, 31 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not sure when or by who it was added, the citation is not formatted like the rest, so I'm fine if it is removed. FunkMonk (talk) 20:47, 31 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]