Death of a species.
Silent Wings: A Memorial to the Passenger Pigeon(Madison, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, 1947).
This booklet memorializing the passenger pigeon includes an address delivered by naturalist Aldo Leopold on the occasion of dedicating a monument to the species, in 1946:
We meet here to commemorate the death of a species. This monument symbolizes our sorrow. We grieve because no living man will see again the onrushing phalanx of vigorous birds, sweeping a path for spring across the March skies, chasing the defeated winter from all the woods and prairies of Wisconsin.
Men still live, who, in their youth remember pigeons; trees still live that, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a few decades hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know….
For one species to mourn the death of another is a new thing under the sun…. Because our sorrow is genuine, we are tempted to believe that we had no part in the demise of the pigeon. The truth is that our grandfathers, who did the actual killing were our agents … in the sense that they shared the conviction, which we have only now begun to doubt, that it is more important to multiply people and comforts than to cherish the beauty of the land in which they live….