The Lost Bird Project

The other night, Ms. Jeannie watched a documentary and fell in love with big birds. Five in particular. This is one of them…

bird1

The documentary was called The Lost Bird Project and was about an artist who set out to memorialize five birds that are now extinct from our environment.

Inspired, after reading the book, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers (great title!) by Christopher Cokinos, sculptor Todd McGrain built man-size sculptures of five particular birds  that are no longer living in the natural world.  He wanted the birds to be not only memorials for something now lost, but also educational pieces that would make people pause and reflect about their own individual roles in the hands of nature.

The five birds he chose were:

The Carolina Parakeet. Extinct since 1918, was highly sought after by the millinery industry for the bright feathers. Photo courtesy of lostbirdfilm.org

The Carolina Parakeet, extinct since 1918, was highly sought after by the millinery industry for their  bright feathers.  This statue was placed at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in Okeechobee, FL. Photo courtesy of lostbirdfilm.org

Carolina Parakeet. Photo courtesy of extinct-website.com.

Carolina Parakeet. Photo courtesy of extinct-website.com.

The passenger pigeon, extinct by 1914, saw its main decline due to hunting. Photo courtesy of lostbirdfilm.org

The passenger pigeon, extinct by 1914, saw its main decline due to hunting. This statue was placed at Grange Audubon Center in Columbus, Ohio. Photo courtesy of lostbirdfilm.org

Passenger Pigeons. Photo courtesy of rareprintsgallery.com

Passenger Pigeons. Photo courtesy of rareprintsgallery.com

The Heath Hen, extinct since 1932 due to hunting, predators and development was last seen in the wild on Martha's Vineyard. The last one living by himself on the vineyard for few years - calling for mates with no replies. Photo courtesy of lostbirdfilm.org

The Heath Hen, extinct since 1932 due to hunting, predators and development was last seen in the wild on Martha’s Vineyard. The last one living by himself on the Vineyard for years, constantly called for mates with no replies. This statue was placed in Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in Martha’s Vineyard, MA. Photo courtesy of lostbirdfilm.org

Heath Hen. Photo courtesy of nhptv.org

Heath Hen. Photo courtesy of nhptv.org

The Labrador Duck, extinct since 1878, was most likely demolished by coastal industry. the labrador duck was north america's version of the tuxedo penguin in all of it's black and white glory.

The Labrador Duck, extinct since 1878, was most likely demolished by a lack of food supply due to coastal industry expansion.  This statue was placed at Brand Park in Elmira, New York. Photo courtesy of lostbirdfilm.org.

Labrador Ducks. Photo courtesy of mcq.org

Labrador Ducks. Photo courtesy of mcq.org

The Great Auk has been extinct 1844. Ever present seabirds, they mated for life and found refuge in rocky terrains off coastal waterways. Their greatest predator was man who would use them for food source, oil and feathers. Photo courtesy of lostbirdfilm.org

The Great Auk has been extinct since 1844. Ever present seabirds, they mated for life and found refuge in rocky terrains off coastal waterways. Their greatest predator was man who would use them for food source, oil and feathers. This statue was placed at Joe Batt’s Point at Fogo Island in Newfoundland. Photo courtesy of lostbirdfilm.org

The Great Auk. Photo courtesy of itsnature.org

The Great Auk. Photo courtesy of itsnature.org

The documentary presents a wonderful arc of a story from creation of the sculptures through dealing with the bureaucratic red tape of state “gifting”  to seeing the sculptures placed in the areas intended by the artist (where the real birds were actually last seen).

Compelling, doesn’t begin to describe the subject matter and at  the heart of the story is one man’s quest for genuine expression.  It is humble. It is grand. It is remarkable.  And it makes you think about nature around us… the common sights and sounds we live with everyday… and all that we might just be taking for granted.

Here’s a trailer for the documentary…

If you’d like to find out more about the project and the artist , visit the film website here. If you happen to live near or have been to see any of the bird statues, please comment below with your thoughts – Ms. Jeannie would love to hear.

****** UPDATE – MAY 8, 2017 ****

The Passenger Pigeon – a Lost Bird Project sculpture was spotted in the gardens of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.!

13 thoughts on “The Lost Bird Project

  1. Breathtaking and impressive sculptures. How wonderful that the lost and endangered are honored in this way. Also a great educational tool for our children.
    Thanks for sharing this.

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    • Indeed Pat! The artists’s brother-in-law is working on promoting the project both nationally and internationally – so hopefully the sculptures, and our currently endangered birds will get some great attention.

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    • Oh thank you Patti! Ms. Jeannie has a feeling that these birds will provide a lot of inspiration for others – just like the book inspired the artist. You just never quite know what could happen next!

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  2. Wow! I have lived on Martha’s Vineyard for 13 years and never knew about the sculpture and it’s story. Of course I asked other people I know and it seems that everyone else did.

    That’s so exciting! I am going to go see it this week. Thank you, Ms. Jeannie. I love your blog.

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  3. I live very close to where the Carolina Parakeet sculpture was placed, the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. The kissimmee is one of the reasons for my choosing to stay in this part of Florida, and I promise you, that everyone who loves the park is humbled that it was chosen for the honor. I only wish that I coud visit each scupture.

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  4. Pingback: Hope Is the Thing with Feathers | msjeannieology

  5. Pingback: The Week In Review: A Date With Julia, Washington DC and Finding A Lost Bird | inthevintagekitchen

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