“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
West Tisbury in Dukes County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)

Heath Hen

Tympanuchus Cupido Cupido

Heath Hen Marker image. Click for full size.
By Robert Puopolo, August 1, 2010
1. Heath Hen Marker
Inscription.  The sole remaining Heath Hen in the world was seen for the last time near this spot on March 11, 1932. This eastern race of the greater prairie chicken was declared extinct in 1933. During the mating season, the males made a loud "booming" sound by inflating the orange air sacs on their necks. A sound that could be heard as far as one mile away. A staple in the early colonists diet, the Heath Hen was more important than the wild turkey to the survival of the pilgrims at Plymouth Colony in the hard winter of 1620-1621. Despite the passage of various protective laws, by 1845 the only birds left were on Marthas Vineyard, having once been widespread from coastal New England south at least to Maryland. In 1908 the commonwealth of Massachusetts set aside 600 acres here as a Heath Hen reservation. ... The last bird known as "booming Ben" lived alone from 1929 until 1932.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Animals. A significant historical date for this entry is March 11, 1932.
Location. 41° 22.81′ N, 70° 39.15′ W. Marker is in West Tisbury, Massachusetts, in Dukes County. Marker is on Edgartown-West Tisbury
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Road, on the right. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Vineyard Haven MA 02568, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Rebecca, Woman of Africa (approx. 4˝ miles away); The Marine Hospital Cemetery (approx. 4.6 miles away); Soldiers' Memorial Fountain (approx. 7.3 miles away); Historic Clay & Brick Bathhouse (approx. 7.4 miles away); Former Moving Target Machine Gun Range at South Beach (approx. 7.6 miles away); Nobska Lighthouse (approx. 9.3 miles away).
Regarding Heath Hen. Decline of the Heath Hen, an important staple of the Pilgrims diet until only one left, by the name of Booming Ben, on Marthas Vineyard, 1932. Declared extinct in 1933
Credits. This page was last revised on January 14, 2019. It was originally submitted on January 11, 2019, by Robert Puopolo of Medford, Massachusetts. This page has been viewed 89 times since then and 2 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on January 11, 2019, by Robert Puopolo of Medford, Massachusetts. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide view photo of the marker and the surrounding area together in context. • A clear, up-close photo of the marker. • Can you help?

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Apr. 22, 2021