1914. The last known passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati zoo.
There were an estimated 5 billion birds prior to the mid 1800s in North America. Hunters shot them out of the sky for 'sport' and they were also used for food for slaves, restaurants and even agricultural fertilizer. In order to catch them easily, hunters would light smoky fires under the nesting trees, with as many as 100 nests. The young would jump out of their nests and into hunters' bags! One hunter alone shipped 3 million pigeons in a single year. They'd soak grain with alcohol to intoxicate them and make them easier to kill.
The term 'stool pigeon' comes from the times too. Hunters would capture a live pigeon, sew his eyelids shut, and use him as a decoy tied to a stool!
Sort of makes a macho guy wanta go hunting, doesn't it?