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We’re sad to see our birds go! We were proud to host these large bronze sculptures for over a year in front of the Museum, but today we helped carefully load the Carolina Parakeet, Great Auk, Heath Hen, Labrador Duck and Passenger Pigeon into a truck and send them on to their next home.

several large bird statues againt the sunrise with a parking garage in the background

They arrived on our lawn to roost on Nov. 1, 2018. Since then many visitors have been able to touch the sculptures and take pictures. There’s a whole generation of kids who have a photo of themselves standing next to, or carefully perched on, a large extinct bird statue.

Artist Todd McGrain conceived “The Lost Bird Project” to call attention to extinction. It focuses on five North American bird species driven to extinction by human activity. Todd originally created one statue of each of these species and placed them where each bird was last seen in the wild, ranging from Fogo Island, Newfoundland, to Okeechobee, Florida.

But Todd decided he could reach more people by assembling a traveling exhibit of sculptures that could be displayed in communities to create a very real presence. Each are 4- to 6-foot cast-bronze and weigh between 700 and 900 pounds!

We’re exceptionally grateful to the artist and supporters who helped bring this exhibit to the Florida Museum. We hope this thought-provoking installment gave us all a moment to pause and consider how humans have permanently affected our Earth’s biodiversity.

Florida Museum photos by Kristen Grace and Dale Johnson

About the birds

  • The Carolina Parakeet was the only parrot species native to the eastern U.S.
  • Great Auks mated for life and would take turns when it came to incubation and feeding.
  • There are theories that suggest the first Thanksgiving featured Heath Hens and not wild turkey.
  • The Labrador Duck was the first North American bird species to go extinct after Columbus’ arrival during the Columbian Exchange at the end of the 15th century. The Columbian Exchange is the transfer of natural resources, technology and ideas between the Americas and Europe that occurred after Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage.
  • It’s believed Passenger Pigeons once made up 25 percent of the total U.S. bird population.

Acknowledgements

Sculptures by Todd McGrain. The Museum gratefully acknowledges the generous support of exhibit sponsor SFI.