Jim Wright, who maintains this blog for the Meadowlands Commission, also writes a twice monthly "Nature Next Door" column for The South Bergenite. Here is his latest — a look at "The Lost Bird Project."
One of the missions of the Meadowlands Commission is to protect our local environment, and understand the importance of this mission, you need only attend a special free screening of an hour-long documentary tonight in DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst.
The highly acclaimed film is “The Lost Bird Project,” the story of sculptor Todd McGrain and his tributes to five North American birds that have gone extinct — the Heath Hen, the Passenger Pigeon, the Labrador Duck, the Great Auk and the Carolina Parakeet.
“Our initial goal was to simply tell the story of Todd’s efforts to place the memorials to the five birds near where they went extinct,” says Scott Anger, the film’s cinematographer and co-producer.
“But it quickly grew into an elegy to the birds and a way to connect viewers to the incredible stories behind each one. These five birds went extinct because of callous practices and a complete disregard for the natural world.”
To understand how the birds and the movie relate to the Meadowlands, just visit the Environment Center in DeKorte Park and take a look inside the large Plexiglas case in the back of the auditorium.
The case is filled with 35 taxidermy birds of 28 different species. All of them are more than a century old at this point, and a bit worse for wear.
The specimens were all collected in the district in the late 1800s, and donated by Caroline Geigold of Secaucus decades ago.
Among the taxidermy birds are two of the five memorialized in the film — the Heath Hen and the Passenger Pigeon. Many of the other species depicted in the taxidermy case are in decline.
That’s one of the many reasons why the Meadowlands Commission has been working to save open space and preserve habitat in the district. And that’s why “The Lost Bird Project” is such an important documentary.
“The film’s message is that we need to pay attention to our environment because if we don't, not only will other species continue to decline, but we humans will be in danger of disappearing as well.”
The filmmakers’ ultimate goal is to have the film reach a wider audience via television — hence the running time of just under an hour. For now, the only place to see “The Lost Bird Project” is in DeKorte Park, tonight.
The screening, from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Environment Center auditorium, will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Anger and several of the other “Lost Bird Project” filmmakers, plus Don Torino of the Bergen County Audubon Society and myself.
A short reception with refreshments will conclude the evening.
To reserve seats, call 201-777-2431 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.