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Grandmother's Pigeon



In this beautifully illustrated story children are introduced to an extinct species, the Passenger Pigeon.

Grandmother is very mysterious and as she leaves for Greenland the family wonders if they will ever see her again.  The mystery deepens when a nest is discovered in Grandmother's room that hatches right before the family's eyes!  Unbelievably, the young birds turn out to be passenger pigeons, a species presumed to be extinct.  As the young birds grow, the family faces a huge dilemma.  Should they keep the birds caged as the experts urge them to do, or should they set them free?  There is only one clear answer for the children, and the pigeons are released along with notes taped to their legs.  Amazingly one of the notes makes it to Grandmother who is alive and well.  Will she be able to answer the question everyone is asking?  Where did this pigeon nest ever come from?

General Assessment

Recommendation of how and where to use it

Few children's books focus on extinct species, therefore this story would make a valuable addition to an endangered species science unit.  The book can help students define the difference between extinct and endangered species.  Children can also learn about some of the causes of extinction such as habitat loss and over hunting. 

The passenger pigeon would also make an interesting research project for older students because it has such an intriguing history.  The species was once one of the most abundant birds in North America.  Their numbers became so low that it was recognized they were endangered but attempts to breed them in captivity were fruitless as breeding conditions could not be artificially duplicated.  Students could learn about the real threat to endangered species of extinction.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

Ecosystems (2)

  • Endangered Species
  • Habitat Loss