March 26, 1870, that is.
In the case of Robert Ridgway, we happen to know. The nineteen-year-old illustrator was in Washington, and he spent that morning in a visit to the city’s market, where he purchased fresh male specimens of the Passenger Pigeon.
The birds’ irides, he would later write, were
scarlet or scarlet-vermilion; bare orbital space livid flesh color; legs and feet lake-red, or pinkish-red…. Now extinct.