Film to tell the story of our once most abundant land bird: the Passenger Pigeon

6/5/2013 | 1

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In this painting by artist Louis Agassiz Fuertes, a male Passenger Pigeon (center) perches beside a female at right and a juvenile at left.

Next year will mark the centennial of the Passenger Pigeon’s extinction, and you can help tell the world about it. Author and birder Joel Greenberg and award-winning filmmaker David Mrazek are producing “From Billions to None,” a documentary that will describe what happened to North America’s most abundant land bird.

Greenberg and Mrazek are conducting a crowdfunding campaign to finance the completion of the film. They’ve raised more than $26,000 of their $65,000 goal. If you can help, don’t delay; the campaign ends next Monday, June 10.

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Joel Greenberg and his Passenger Pigeon specimen, Heinrich.

“It’s as if you have a secret that means a lot to you, and you want others to learn about it,” Greenberg says in the trailer for the film. He often speaks to kids at nature centers and other sites about the bird’s extinction and takes along his own taxidermic Passenger Pigeon to show what the species looked like. When the film is completed, it will reach a much wider audience than Greenberg and his stuffed bird could ever connect with.

Greenberg is the author of a forthcoming book about the pigeon, A Feathered River Across the Sky (Walker and Co., 2014), and he heads up Project Passenger Pigeon, an effort to tell the bird’s story through educational programs and exhibits at museums, foundations, Audubon societies, and other groups. Plus, he’s writing an article about the pigeon for a future issue of BirdWatching.

Through the film, book, and other media, Greenberg says the point is not simply to describe a sad tale of a lost bird. He wants to educate the public about humanity’s impact on wildlife today and, ultimately, to “motivate people to take actions that both promote biodiversity and prevent human-caused extinctions.” More power to him, I say! — Matt Mendenhall, Managing Editor

  • canaduck

    Sounds like an excellent documentary.