American Birding Podcast



Watch The Lost Bird Project on PBS this Earth Day

ABA members will likely be interested in The Lost Bird Project, a new documentary film about five North American birds driven to extinction in modern times, which will air on public television stations across the country on Earth Day, Monday, April 22, 2013.

Gone and nearly forgotten, the Labrador Duck, Great Auk, Heath Hen, Carolina Parakeet and Passenger Pigeon have left a hole in the American landscape and in our collective memory. Moved by their stories, sculptor Todd McGrain set out to bring their vanished forms back into the worldby permanently placing his elegant, evocative bronze memorials at the location of each bird’s demise.

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Todd McGrain at work

The Lost Bird Project is a one-hour documentary that tells the story of how these birds came to meet their fates and the journey that leads McGrain and his brother-in-law, Andy Stern, from the swamps of Florida, the final roosting ground of the Carolina Parakeet, to a tiny island off the coast of Newfoundland, where some of the last Great Auks made their nests and where the local townspeople still mourn their absence 150 years later.  McGrain and Stern scout locations, talk to park rangers, speak at town meetings and battle bureaucracy in their effort to gather support for the project. McGrain’s aim in placing the sculptures is to give presence to the birds where they are now so starkly absent. “These  birds are not commonly known,” he says, “and they ought to be, because forgetting is another kind of extinction. It’s such a thorough erasing.”

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Great Auk

The film is directed by Deborah Dickson, whose previous films have been nominated three times for Oscars, and is produced by Muffie Meyer, whose previous directing credits include the original Grey Gardens documentary and several Emmy award-winning documentaries.

The Lost Bird Project is about public art, extinction and memory.  It is an elegy to five extinct North American birds and a thoughtful, moving, sometimes humorous look at the artist and his mission.

Check your local public television listing for exact dates and times of the broadcast in your area.  A full list of all the broadcasts can be found on the film’s website.

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Carolina Parakeet

In case you miss the broadcast, the film is being distributed directly by the creators with the intention of offering it as a tool to individuals and organizations dedicated to educating local communities about conservation and preservation of our fragile natural environments.

Individual DVDs and screening licenses are available for purchase on the The Lost Bird Project website.  The license system makes it easy for hosts to hold either a free or ticketed event.  A step-by-step screening guide is available to assist in planning and publicizing film screening events.

The Lost Bird Project is also the name of a new not-for-profit dedicated to using art and storytelling to connect people more deeply with the
natural environment.

Remember, Monday, April 22, on PBS!