GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sculptures cast in bronze of the extinct Carolina Parakeet, Great Auk, Heath Hen, Labrador Duck and Passenger Pigeon will stand in front of the Florida Museum of Natural History starting Nov. 1 as part of the traveling exhibit “The Lost Bird Project.”
The Florida Museum will host Todd McGrain, creator and artist behind the exhibit, for a free lecture open to the general public at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 25. For more information on the lecture, visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/event/lost-bird-lecture.
McGrain made 4- to 6-foot sculptures of these five North American avian species that have gone extinct as a memorial to birds driven to extinction in modern times. Permanent statues were placed where each species was last seen in the wild, ranging from Fogo Island, Newfoundland, to Okeechobee with traveling exhibits of the sculptures touring nationally.
An avid bird-watcher, McGrain says creating and installing the statues took about 10 years. A film, also titled “The Lost Bird Project,” was released in 2012 detailing the process of erecting these sculptures across the country.
“I arrived at the project through a love for birds and in the process it was revealed to me the role they can play in conservation,” McGrain said. “Any interest in the natural world will inevitably lead to concerns about the ecology and environment. I want people to be drawn to the statues and go away wanting to know more about the Passenger Pigeon or Carolina Parakeet for instance.”
McGrain said the exhibit is especially relevant to Florida because the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is one of North America’s most endangered birds. According to 2012 surveys by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were only 75 singing males, the lowest number ever detected on public lands.
Florida Museum exhibit developer Tina Choe said “The Lost Bird Project” spotlights the importance of biodiversity and connecting people to life on Earth.
“Bird populations are declining rapidly, and modern extinctions are happening at an alarming rate,” Choe said.
For more information on the exhibit, visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/exhibits/lost-bird or call 352-846-2000.