Missing from our skies

Animals > Missing species > Missing from our skies

Passenger Pigeon.
Passenger pigeon.

Artwork by Lindy C., Robbinsville High School, North Carolina.

Passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius)

  • Status: Extinct
  • Last seen in park: late 1800s - early 1900s
  • Species story: The passenger pigeon once flew in flocks so thick that they blocked out the sun for hours. The town of Pigeon Forge and local branches of the Pigeon River in Tennessee were named after these birds, which disappeared gradually as people hunted them as a cheap source of food, shot them by the hundreds for sport, and even killed them to spread on fields for fertilizer. The last passenger pigeon, Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
Rusty Patched Bumble bee.
Rusty-patched bumble bee.

Artwork by Cailon G, Robbinsville High School, North Carolina.

Rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis)

  • Status: Missing
  • Last seen in park: 2003
  • Species story: Common across the eastern United States-and the park-until the 1990s, this bumble bee is in serious decline. Biologists think that a single-celled parasite is spreading from captive, European bumblebees brought in to pollinate tomato plants. Scientists are beginning to fear for this bee's pending extinction, though it was still found in Wisconsin and Virginia in 2014.
Red-cockaded woodpecker.
Red-cockaded woodpecker.

Artwork by Amber L, Robbinsville High School, North Carolina.

Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides boreali)

  • Status: Federally endangered, locally extinct
  • Last seen in park: late 1970s
  • Species story: This woodpecker used to be common in the western part of the park. It thrived in the open pine understory that frequent fire created. However, fire suppression in the 1900s caused this open habitat to disappear, and by the time the park cut the undergrowth in the area, the Red-cockaded woodpecker colony had dwindled to zero. This woodpecker still lives in 11 states with open pine habitat.

Last updated: July 13, 2015

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