Heath hen

Never Say Never; Heath Hen May Get Its Boom Back

The heath hen is currently being proposed as a possibility for de-extinction by an organization that aims to coordinate projects that use genetics to rescue endangered and extinct species.
bird

Booming Ben the Heath Hen Visits Camp

How do you get kids to care about a bird that no longer flies to the treetops, nor whistles to greet the day? Appeal to their senses and their incomparable imaginative faculties, says Todd McGrain, artist, arts educator and activist.

Mr. McGrain did just that last week, during his visit to Sense of Wonder Creations summer camp, when he asked children to touch a reproduction heath hen, listen to its call and imagine what it must have looked like.

Ben the Heath Hen

The Ballad Of Boomin’ Ben

Note: The  Heath Hen, once a plentiful bird throughout New England, was last seen by James Green in West Tisbury on March 11, 1932.

The Ballad Of Boomin’ Ben

(The Tragic Tale of the Last Heath Hen)

I looked for my lady,

hoped she was near

playing “hard-to-get” games

in the Spring of that year.

I searched and I searched 

under brush, by the sea;

Gazette Chronicle: The Last Heath Hen

The Last Heath Hen

From the Vineyard Gazette editions of March, 1933:

New Research: Island's Extinct Heath Hen Was a Unique Bird

Now a genetic study of the skins of scores of heath hens, all of them from the Vineyard, shows that the Island bird, although it looked and behaved much like its supposed parent species in the Midwest, was a wholly distinctive creature. Genetically it was more different from the greater western prairie chicken - that supposed parent species - than the Midwestern bird is from any other family member in its genus, which includes the lesser prairie chicken, the endangered Attwater's prairie chicken of eastern Texas, and even the sharp-tailed grouse. It is possible that instead of being a subspecies of the prairie chicken - which scientists have considered it to be since it was first typed in the last years of the nineteenth century - the heath hen might have been a species unto itself.

Last Heath Hen is Dead and Race is Now Extinct, Expert Observers Agree

Somewhere on the great plain of Martha’s Vineyard death and the heath hen have met. One day, just as usual, there was a bird called the heath hen, and the next day there was none. How he came to his end no human being can know. But the death of wild birds is a violent death. The eye becomes dimmed, the beat of the wings lags ever so little, the star of fortune blinds for a fraction of a second it is enough. An enemy strikes and death has come.

Last Heath Hen Nearly Run Down by Car on September 14th

That the world’s lone heath hen, Martha’s Vineyard’s most famous resident, was still alive September 13, is vouched for by Dr. John A. Phillips, president of the Massachusetts Fish and Game Association, who, in a letter sent out to members of the organization last week, told of almost running over a heath hen as he drove Mrs. Phillips along the Dr. Fisher road in West Tisbury, near the fire tower.

To Preserve the Heath Hen

The State, acting through the fish and game commission, has under consideration the purchase of the 600-acre farm of Antone Andrews, located on the Martha’s Vineyard plain, near Little Pond some three miles from Edgartown, for the purpose of establishing on the tract a state reservation for the better protection of the heath hen, or pinnated grouse. As is well known, the few fowl of this species on the Vineyard are the last of this famous branch of the grouse family. Nowhere else in the world are these heath hen found.

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