Passenger Pigeon information:
We are living in the core area where the passenger pigeons once lived year-round, the breeding area of their range, and sporadic reports of Passenger pigeons have been made since their supposed extinction, including in Ohio and Kentucky.
What I saw did look exactly like a Passenger pigeon: a large greyish pigeon with a bright salmon-pink front. I saw it feeding on the ground within a few feet, and this morning I saw it fly overhead from below, associating with a large flock of park pigeons but keeping apart from them. Once again the pink belly was distinctive. The noise of the wings when it took off from the ground was also louder than usual when I saw it close up.
What I am assuming is that either Passenger pigeons were conspecific with mourning doves or that they had crossbred in the past and enough genes remain in the gene pool that they can be accidentally recreated by genetic recombination. Either that or they never really became extinct.
The Wikipedia entry also states that it is possible that the incredible numbers of the Passenger pigeons in the 1800s could have been a freakish population explosion, in which case it is possible that the freakish population was the one that became extinct while a few "normal" individuals remained.
Best Wishes, Dale D.