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Author of 'A Feathered River Across the Sky' to Discuss Mass Extinction

The author of a book detailing the abundance of the passenger pigeon and its annihilation 100 years ago will talk about lessons for humans on such mass extinctions at Duquesne University.

Joel Greenberg, naturalist and author of A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction, will be on campus Thursday, Dec. 4, as part of a series of events focused on the disappearance of what once was the continent's most abundant bird. From 3 to 4 p.m., Greenberg will hold a book signing in Duquesne's Barnes & Noble Café. From 4:30 to 5:45 p.m., he will talk about mass extinctions and the lessons for humans in the Power Center Ballroom.

On www.passengerpigeon.org, Greenberg writes about how the birds were once so plentiful they blotted out the sun and flew in flocks of billions:

"The story of how the most abundant bird to ever exist on this planet disappeared in so little time is unique in the annals of human experience. Not merely a footnote in history, this tale of profligate slaughter and the use and abuse of what was considered an infinite resource holds important lessons to those who reside in the early twentieth-first century."

His fact-finding mission about the passenger pigeon's extinction raises other questions: "Did anyone try to stop the tragedy that was about to occur? If the killing had stopped, could the passenger pigeon have survived to the present? What is to be learned from this bird's extinction? Are there parallels to the passenger pigeon story going on today?"

Besides Greenberg's lecture, the series includes an art exhibition Moving Targets: Of Extinction and Survival, in the Gumberg Library, through Saturday, Dec. 6. The exhibit examines issues of dispensability and persecution, drawing parallels between the extinction of the passenger pigeon and the flight of Jewish families from the Ukraine. Family and environmental history combine in the installation, which also includes artwork from 14 artists who live in areas where passenger pigeons once nested.

The lecture is free and open to the public, as is the art exhibit. However, guests outside the Duquesne campus community area asked to call 412.396.6130 before visiting the exhibit.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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