Learn English with Quirks & Quarks

Passenger Pigeon Extinction

Published: 12.03.2017
Level 6   |   Time: 4:43
Accent: Canadian, British

Why did the most abundant bird in the world go extinct in just 50 years?


You can download the file [ HERE ].


triangle Directions 목표 Direcciones Instruções


    It is important to read the vocabulary before you watch the video. This will improve your ability to understand the video. It will also help you understand how the new vocabulary is used naturally.

  2. WATCH the VIDEO

    The first time you watch the video, just try to understand the overall situation.


    First try to answer all the questions from memory. Then rewatch the video and try to answer the questions that you missed.

  4. WATCH and READ the SCRIPT

    Watch the video again while you read the script. Reading and listening at the same time will help you hear each individual word and improve your listening accuracy.


    There are several different activities that focus on test preparation, vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure.


    Es importante leer el vocabulario antes de ver el video. Esto mejorará su capacidad para comprender el video. También le ayudará a comprender cómo se usa el nuevo vocabulario de forma natural.

  2. VER el VIDEO

    La primera vez que vea el video, intente comprender la situación general.


    Primero intente responder todas las preguntas de memoria. Luego, vuelva a ver el video e intente responder las preguntas que se perdió.


    Mire el video nuevamente mientras lee el guión. Leer y escuchar al mismo tiempo lo ayudará a escuchar cada palabra individual y mejorará su precisión auditiva.


    Hay una serie de actividades diferentes que se centran en la preparación de la examen, el vocabulario, la gramática y la estructura de las oraciones.

  1. 어휘 읽기

    비디오를 보기 전에 어휘와 배경을 읽는 것이 중요합니다. 이렇게 하면 비디오를 이해하는 능력이 향상됩니다. 또한 새로운 어휘가 어떻게 자연스럽게 사용되는지 이해하는데 도움이됩니다.

  2. 비디오 보기

    비디오를 처음 볼 때 전체 상황을 이해하려고 노력하세요.

  3. 문제에 답하기

    먼저 모든 질문에 답을 해보세요. 그런 다음 비디오를 다시보고 놓친 질문에 답해보세요.

  4. 비디오 보면서 대본 읽기

    대본을 읽는 동안 비디오를 다시 보세요. 읽기와 듣기를 동시에 하면 각각의 단어를 듣고, 듣기 정확도를 향상시킬 수 있습니다.

  5. 액티비티 하기

    듣기 정확도, 발음, 어휘, 문법 및 문장 구조에 초점을 맞춘 다양한 액티비티가 있습니다.


    É importante ler o vocabulário antes de assistir ao vídeo. Isso melhorará sua capacidade de entender o vídeo. Também ajudará você a entender como o novo vocabulário é usado naturalmente.


    Na primeira vez que assistir ao vídeo, tente entender a situação geral.


    Primeiro, tente responder a todas as perguntas de memória. Em seguida, assista novamente ao vídeo e tente responder às perguntas que você errou.


    Assista ao vídeo novamente enquanto lê o roteiro. Ler e ouvir ao mesmo tempo ajudará você a ouvir cada palavra individualmente e a melhorar sua precisão auditiva.


    Existem várias atividades diferentes que se concentram na preparação para o teste, vocabulário, gramática e estrutura de frases.

triangle Vocabulary 어휘 Vocabulário Vocabulario

  • ☐ ☐ ☐ extinction [n] - having no living members
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ demise [n] - death
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a flock [n] - a group of birds
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ vulnerable [adj] - weak / helpless / defenseless
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a specimen [n] - an individual animal used for scientific study
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ sleek [adj] - smooth
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ aerodynamic [adj] - smooth so as not to create drag from wind
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ get my head around that [exp] - understand that
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ swaths [n] - a broad strip or area of something
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ nomadic [adj] - having no permanent home
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ habitat [n] - the natural home or environment of an animal
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ acorns [n] - the fruit of oak trees
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ chips [n] - potato chips
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ sexual dimorphism [exp] - the males and females in a species are physically (morphologically) different
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ raised in captivity [exp] - raised by humans / not wild
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ breed [v] - have babies
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ extinct [adj] - gone, disappeared
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ It is unheard of. [exp] - It is very very very rare.
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ well-adapted [adj] - fitted suitably into an environment
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ sociable [adj] - like to be in large groups
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ collaborate [v] - work together / use teamwork
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ rear [v] - raise and care for (babies)
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ young [n] - babies
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ dense [adj] - many members in a small space
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ safety in numbers [exp] - protection from enemies by being in a large group
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ ecology [n] - the study of how an animal relates to its environment

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb, [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Comprehension Questions 이해력 검사 문제 Perguntas de compreensão Preguntas de comprensión

  1. What was the most abundant bird in North America in the 19th century?
    carrier pigeons
    passenger pigeons

  2. How many passenger pigeons were there in the 19th century?
    almost 3 billion
    3 to 5 billion
    more than 5 billion

  3. How many passenger pigeons are there now?
    about 3 billion
    a few hundred

  4. What was one cause of the extinction of passenger pigeons?
    climate change
    lack of food

  5. How did Dr. Murray and her team do research on passenger pigeons?
    They caught and studied specimens.
    They looked at old videos and photographs of specimens.
    They studied specimens from museums.

  6. What was a unique feature of the passenger pigeon?
    They had very few young.
    They flew in very large flocks.
    They could fly very fast.

  7. What would happen when a flock of passenger pigeons flew overhead?
    They would hunt and kill small animals.
    They would fight with other types of birds.
    They would block out the sun.

  8. Where were passenger pigeons located?
    in the Rocky Mountains
    east of the Rocky Mountains
    west of the Rocky Mountains

  9. What did passenger pigeons eat?

  10. Why did farmers dislike passenger pigeons?
    They were hard to catch.
    They ate farmers' crops.
    They were very loud.

  11. How were males different from females?
    Males had a bright red chest.
    Males were much bigger.
    Males ate a lot more than females.

  12. Who was Martha?
    a scientist
    a museum worker
    the last passenger pigeon

  13. Where was the last passenger pigeon located?

  14. How many babies did the last passenger pigeon have?

  15. Why is the extinction of the passenger pigeon so shocking?
    It was a very dramatic decline in numbers.
    It was the first bird to go extinct.
    It was hard to kill them.

  16. Why did people mainly hunt passenger pigeons?
    for food
    to protect their farms
    for sport

  17. What are some of the causes of passenger pigeon extinction?
    human hunting
    habitat destruction
    other predators
    poor adaptation to living in a small population

  18. What were passenger pigeons well-adapted to?
    Living in small groups.
    Living in large groups.
    Living in warm climates.
    Living in cold climates.

  19. What activities did passenger pigeons collaborate (work together) on?
    finding food
    hiding from predators
    hiding nuts
    raising young

  20. What advantage did living in a large population offer passenger pigeons?
    It was easier for them to find food.
    They were able to travel faster.
    They were safer from predators.

  21. What does Dr. Murray think is the most important cause of passenger pigeon extinction?
    human activities
    climate change
    lack of food

triangle TOEFL Questions TOEFL 문제 Perguntas do TOEFL Preguntas de TOEFL

  1. What is the discussion mainly about?
    (A) How passenger pigeons found food
    (B) The life cycle of passenger pigeons
    (C) Why passenger pigeons went extinct
    (D) The last living passenger pigeon

  2. What differences between regular pigeons and passenger pigeons does the professor mention?
    [Click two answers.]
    (A) Passenger pigeons were smoother.
    (B) Passenger pigeons were bigger.
    (C) Passenger pigeons flew in very big flocks.
    (D) Passenger pigeons were smarter.

  3. Why does the professor say this?

    (A) To demonstrate how big passenger pigeons were
    (B) To explain the time of day when passenger pigeons were most active
    (C) To point out the eating habits of passenger pigeons
    (D) To exemplify how large passenger pigeon flocks were

  4. On the map below, identify the areas in North America where passenger pigeons lived.
    [Click two answers.]

  5. Why did farmers dislike passenger pigeons?
    (A) Passenger pigeons ate their crops.
    (B) Passenger pigeons often attacked their livestock.
    (C) Passenger pigeons blocked out the sun.
    (D) Passenger pigeons spread disease.

  6. Identify the male passenger pigeon from the pictures below.
    (A) image
    (B) image
    (C) image
    (D) image

  7. Which of the following statements are true for Martha.
    [Click two answers.]
    (A) She lived in a zoo.
    (B) She was the last passenger pigeon to breed.
    (C) She died in 1914.
    (D) She had a bright red breast.

  8. According to the professor, why is the extinction of passenger pigeons so shocking?
    (A) It happened very recently.
    (B) It happened very quickly.
    (C) It happened despite numerous efforts to protect them.
    (D) It was caused by humans

  9. The professor describes some of the reasons that passenger pigeons went extinct. Which of the following does she mention?
    [Click three answers.]
    (A) Their poor adaptation to living in a small population
    (B) The destruction of their habitat
    (C) Their inability to breed
    (D) A lack of food
    (E) Hunting by humans

  10. What does the man mean when he says this?

    (A) Passenger pigeons flocks were too large.
    (B) Passenger pigeons flocks were too small.
    (C) Passenger pigeons were safer when they were in large flocks.
    (D) Passenger pigeons were safer when they were in small flocks.

  11. According to the professor, what was the primary cause of passenger pigeon extinction?
    (A) Ecological factors
    (B) Climate change
    (C) Human activity
    (D) Their breeding habits

triangle Sentence Building (Summary) 문장 만들기 Construção de sentença Construcción de oraciones [ ? ]


This activity is designed to improve sentence accuracy and complexity. Most students can produce the key content words in a sentence. However, they have difficulty with accuracy because the functional words are difficult or can seem unimportant. This activity will help learners eliminate problems with these functional words by giving them immediate feedback on the mistakes they are making. It will also help students develop their use of more natural, varied and complex sentence structures.

TIP: Say the sentence out loud. Notice the types of mistake you make often. Focus on those types of errors. (singular/plural, subject-verb agreement, article use, prepositions, gerunds and infinitives, noun clauses, adjective clauses, word order, and word forms.)


Esta actividad está diseñada para mejorar la precisión y complejidad de las oraciones. La mayoría de los estudiantes pueden producir las palabras clave del contenido en una oración. Sin embargo, tienen dificultades con la precisión porque las palabras funcionales son difíciles o pueden parecer poco importantes. Esta actividad ayudará a los alumnos a eliminar problemas con estas palabras funcionales al brindarles retroalimentación inmediata sobre los errores que están cometiendo. También ayudará a los estudiantes a desarrollar su uso de estructuras de oraciones más naturales, variadas y complejas.

CONSEJO: Diga la oración en voz alta. Observe los tipos de errores que comete con frecuencia. Concéntrese en ese tipo de errores. (singular / plural, concordancia entre sujeto y verbo, uso del artículo, preposiciones, gerundios e infinitivos, cláusulas sustantivas, cláusulas adjetivas, orden de las palabras y formas de las palabras).


이 액티비티는 문장의 정확성과 복잡성을 개선하기 위해 고안되었습니다. 대부분의 학생들은 문장에서 핵심 내용 단어를 생성 할 수 있습니다. 그러나 기능적 단어가 어렵거나 중요하지 않은 것처럼 보일 수 있기 때문에 정확성에 어려움이 있습니다. 이 액티비티는 학습자가 실수에 대한 즉각적인 피드백을 제공함으로써 이러한 기능적 단어의 문제를 제거하는 데 도움이 됩니다. 또한 학생들이 보다 자연스럽고 다양하며 복잡한 문장 구조를 사용하는 데 도움이 됩니다.

팁 : 문장을 크게 말하세요. 자주 저지르는 실수 유형과, 이러한 유형의 오류에 집중하세요. (단수 / 복수, 주어-동사 일치, 관사 사용, 전치사, 동명사 및 부정사, 명사절, 형용사절, 어순 및 단어 형태)


Esta atividade foi desenvolvida para melhorar a precisão e a complexidade das frases. A maioria dos alunos pode produzir as palavras-chave do conteúdo em uma frase. No entanto, eles têm dificuldade com precisão porque as palavras funcionais são difíceis ou podem parecer sem importância. Esta atividade ajudará os alunos a eliminar problemas com essas palavras funcionais, dando-lhes feedback imediato sobre os erros que estão cometendo. Também ajudará os alunos a desenvolver o uso de estruturas de sentenças mais naturais, variadas e complexas.

DICA: Diga a frase em voz alta. Observe os tipos de erro que você comete com frequência. Concentre-se nesses tipos de erros. (singular/plural, concordância sujeito-verbo, uso de artigos, preposições, gerúndios e infinitivos, cláusulas substantivas, cláusulas adjetivas, ordem das palavras e formas das palavras.)

Directions: Write sentences about the video clip using the words given. You can change the word form or add words, but you cannot change the word order.

Instrucciones: Escriba oraciones sobre el videoclip usando las palabras dadas. Puede cambiar la forma de la palabra o agregar palabras, pero no puede cambiar el orden de las palabras.

Instrucciones: Escreva orações sobre o videoclipe usando as palavras-chave. Você pode alterar a forma da palavra ou adicionar palavras, mas não pode alterar a ordem das palavras.

지시 : 주어진 단어를 사용하여 비디오 클립에 대한 문장을 씁니다. 어형을 변경하거나 단어를 추가할 수 있지만 어순은 변경할 수 없습니다.

Sentence 1

19th / Century / there / as / as / five / billion / passenger pigeon / world

In the 19th Century, there were as many as 5 billion passenger pingeons in the world.

Sentence 2

scientist / know / hunt / play / part / extinct / passenger pigeon

Scientist [know/knew] (that) hunting played [a/some] part in the extinction of passenger pigeons.

Sentence 3

passenger pigeon / sleek / and / aerodynamic / than / regular / pigeon

Passenger pigeons are sleeker and more aerodynamic than regular pigeons.

Sentence 4

passenger pigeon / fly / flock / so / big / they / could / dark / sky

Passenger pigeons flew in flocks [that/which] were so big (that) they could darken the sky.

Sentence 5

passenger pigeon / find / region / North America / east / Rocky / Mountain

Passenger pigeons [were/could be] found in regions of North America ([that/which] were) east of the Rocky Mountains.

Sentence 6

passenger / pigeon / have / sex / dimorphism / mainly / color / feather / chest

Passenger pigeons had sexual dimorphism mainly in the color of the feathers on their chest.

Sentence 7

last / passenger / pigeon / die / 1914 / Cincinnati / Zoo / age / 29

The last passenger pigeon died in 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo at the age (of) 29.

Sentence 8

all / attempt / breed / her / male / pigeon / fail

All (of the) attempts to breed her [with/to] male pigeons failed.

Sentence 9

main / factor / cause / extinction / passenger pigeon / hunting

The main factor that caused the extinction of passenger pigeons was hunting.

Sentence 10

because / passenger pigeon / high / sociable / they / likely / struggle / when / population / start / decline

Because passenger pigeons were highly sociable, they likely struggled when their population started [declining/to decline].

Sentence 11

large / population / size / passenger pigeon / protect / predator

The large population size of passenger pigeons protected them from predators.

Sentence 12

although / human / primary cause / some / aspect / ecology / may / contribute / extiction

Although humans are the primary cause, some aspects of their ecology may have contributed to their extiction.

triangle Discussion 논의 Questões de discussão Discusión

  1. Had you heard of passenger pigeons before you listened to this podcast? What did you know about them?
  2. What are the most surprising or interesting facts about passenger pigeons?
  3. They mention that passenger pigeons were a good food source. Would you eat pigeon? What birds would you consider eating?
  4. What effects do you think passenger pigeon extiction had on the ecology of North America?
  5. Are there endangered species in your country? Are there any animals that have recently become extinct in your country? What caused it?
  6. Plant and animal extinctions are occurring at a rate of at least 1,000 times faster than the time before humans. Is this important? Do you care? (Be honest!!) Why?
  7. What can/should individuals do to help slow or prevent the extiction of species (plant and animal) in the world?
  8. What can/should corporations do to help slow or prevent the extiction of species (plant and animal) in the world?
  9. What can/should governments do to help slow or prevent the extiction of species (plant and animal) in the world?
  10. Which of the three actors above do you feel is most responsible for these problems? Which has the greatest abilty to slow or prevent extiction?

triangle Script 대본 Roteiro Texto

In the 19th century, passenger pigeons numbered between 3 billion and 5 billion. It's thought that they were the most abundant bird in North America, perhaps even the world. When the birds were suddenly driven to extinction in a matter of decades, scientists knew hunting likely played a part in their demise. But why were such large flocks so vulnerable? Could there be more going on? Dr. Jemma Murray is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Santa Cruz. She and her team went searching through museum specimens for some clues. Dr. Murray welcome to the program.


First of all, tell me about passenger pigeons. What were they like?

They were sort of you know in some respects quite similar to the pigeons you see around, but they were sleeker. They were slightly more aerodynamic. And I think the most remarkable thing was that they flew in these huge flocks. The flocks, they apparently could number millions and even billions of birds. And so when one of these flocks flew overhead, they would be described as darkening the sky, so blocking out the sun. It was a pretty remarkable thing to see.

It's hard to get my head around that, about just how many birds there were. Where were they found?

So they were found across large swathes of North America, so the USA and Canada. The whole regions of East of the Rocky Mountains. They were a nomadic species, and so they'd go around in these huge flocks in search of food and habitat.

What do they eat?

They definitely liked nuts from forests, so acorns and things like that. But I think they would be very happy to eat people's crops as well. So I think they weren't particularly popular.

They're probably quite different from the pigeons today who like to eat garbage and chips and whatever else we throw at them.

Yes exactly yeah.

Was there a difference between the males and females?

Yeah, there was sexual dimorphism, so the males had this sort of very reddish chest, kind of like a robin, whereas the females are slightly sort of lighter and duller colors.

Now there's a story about how the very last passenger pigeon died. Tell me about that.

The last known passenger pigeon anyway was called Martha. She lived in the Cincinnati Zoo. And so she died of old age at the age I think it's estimated 29 years old in 1914. There was a group of passenger pigeons that were sort of raised in captivity, and she was one of them. They realize the population was in trouble, and there were awards out there for people to provide males to breed with her because they really wanted to revitalize the population when they could. Sadly, she did not. She did not breed, and so she was the last living.

We hear of animals going extinct all the time. Why do you think the passenger pigeon gets so much attention?

It's just such a dramatic decline at first. Billions of individuals to go extinct in just a matter of a few decades is pretty unheard of. And so just sort of the size of this population and how quickly it went extinct is pretty shocking.

What were the ideas on why they went extinct before your study?

Well I think everyone realizes that they're definitely the main factor was humans. So we hunted them. There was this commercial level harvest of these birds. They were a really great and easy food source. Their flocks are so dense that if you shut off a rifle up in the air, several pigeons would you know just fall to the ground because they were just so dense. And they were also like caught in huge nets, and so they were transported across the country to feed people. And I don’t think people expected them to just go extinct like that. We are also cutting down forests at the same time as we are hunting this species, so we were destroying their habitat and some of their food sources. So other studies have suggested that, so that’s also potentially an issue.

And other people have suggested that passenger pigeons may have been sort of well adapted to living large population sizes. They were known to be really sociable species. They collaborated in finding food, and they also collaborated in rearing their young. So so maybe these sorts of behaviors, while they are really advantageous when their population was really large and really dense, maybe they they sort of made them struggle more when they were sort of hunting resulted in their population becoming a lot smaller and potentially sort of less dense and more disparate.

Oh I see. They needed safety in numbers.

Maybe yes so yeah likely as well so the large population size would have meant that it would protect you from predators.

In your study then do you think that the demise of the passenger pigeon was entirely human caused or do you think that there could have been some natural affection there as well?

Without us hunting them passenger pigeons we've got no reason to think that they would have gone extinct. But saying that, there's potentially some aspects of their ecology or their natural history which meant they were a little bit more vulnerable than they might have been otherwise and to a really rapid decline.

Dr. Murray, thank you very much for your time.

Thank you very much. It's been very nice talking to you.