Watch the artist's process as he begins a new sculpture.
Artist Todd McGrain begins a new sculpture of Eskimo Curlew
Lost Bird Project artist Todd McGrain has started a new sculpture project focusing on the Eskimo Curlew, once one of the most abundant shorebirds in the Western hemisphere. It is now believed to be extinct.
"When we lost the Passenger Pigeon to extinction the Eskimo Curlew became the focus of market hunting. In turn, the Eskimo Curlew fell to the same fate as the Pigeon," says McGrain. "It was a beautiful bird, deserving of a better fate and worthy of our memory."
Despite its large numbers, three distinct factors led to the Eskimo Curlew’s rapid decline; over-harvesting by market hunters, habitat loss as a result of human impact and extinction of its primary food source (Rocky Mountain grasshopper).
The species nested in the high Arctic and wintered in the southern extremes of South America. The Eskimo Curlew has not been recorded with certainty since 1963 and none have been confirmed on its wintering grounds since 1939. One of the last sightings of the bird took place on Galveston Island, Texas in 1962.
McGrain's bronze 'Lost Bird' memorials to the Great Auk, Labrador Duck, Heath Hen, Carolina Parakeet and the Passenger Pigeon stand in the locations where the birds were last seen alive. A documentary film about his project titled, The Lost Bird Project, is airing on public television stations across the nation during April and May. Check your local listings for exact dates and times in your area.
The film follows the road-trip McGrain and his brother-in-law, Andy Stern, take as they search for locations to permanently place the large bronze memorials sculptures. Directed by Deborah Dickson, whose previous films have been nominated three times for the Academy Award, The Lost Bird Project is an elegy to five extinct North American birds and a thoughtful, moving, sometimes humorous look at the artist and his mission.
If you miss the film on public television, DVDs and group screening licenses can be purchased online.