Wisconsin mural honors passenger pigeon extinction

This photo taken June 14, 2014 shows Martha, an extinct passenger pigeon, once the most plentiful bird on the planet, who went extinct in September 1914 when Martha died in public at the Cincinnati zoo, at the Smithsonian's Natural history Museum in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

STEVENS POINT (AP) - The University of Wisconsin's natural history museum is installing a new mural to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passenger pigeon's extinction.

Stevens Point Journal Media reports the museum features the painting by local wildlife artist Mary Bratz. A preserved passenger pigeon is mounted in front of the mural. It's believed to be the last one shot in Wisconsin.

Not to be confused with carrier pigeons, the extinct passenger pigeons were once the most common bird in the world. They died out due to habitat destruction and hunting.

The museum's director says Midwestern forests would look completely different today if the pigeons still existed because of their diet and migratory habits.

The last passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio 100 years ago in September.