Extinction Focus of 'The Lost Bird Project' Film at Carnegie Museum

  • Todd McGrain's sculptures of extinct birds are featured in "The Lost Bird Project." Photo courtesy of The Lost Bird Project.

November 14, 2014

"The Lost Bird Project," a film about a hopeful response to the tragedy of modern extinction, is showing at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. On Nov. 22, there's a book-signing and Q&A. 

The hour-long documentary charts the efforts of artist Todd McGrain to immortalize five North American birds that are no longer part of our landscape’s living fabric: the Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Labrador Duck, Great Auk, and Heath Hen.

“These birds are not commonly known,” McGrain says, “and they ought to be, because forgetting is another kind of extinction.”

The film follows the road trip that McGrain and his brother-in-law, Andy Stern, take as they search for the locations where each species was last seen in the wild, and negotiate for permission to install McGrain’s large bronze sculptures of the now extinct birds. The book, of the same title, was published in September.

"The Lost Bird Project" pays homage to author Christopher Cokinos for his book, "Hope Is the Thing with Feathers," and in choosing that title, the author honors Emily Dickinson by borrowing the opening line from her poem "254."

"The Lost Bird Project" is currently being shown twice a week in the Earth Theater at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, at 6 p.m. Thursdays, and 3 p.m. Saturdays.

These film screenings are among several Pittsburgh-area events and exhibitions marking the centenary of the Passenger Pigeon’s extinction.