The Lost Bird Project
Todd McGrainCloth: $19.95
The Lost Bird Project is a moving tribute to species that have been lost through human action or indifference. With more and more birds going the way of the Great Auk, it should serve not just as a memorial, but as a goad to action.
—Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe
The Lost Bird Project is a wonderfully original, moving, and educational work of tribute to extinct species of birds that once populated the American wilderness. Its sculptures, and their placements, are unique. What a grand idea!
—Richard Rhodes, author of John James Audubon: The Making of an American
Fifteen years ago, sculptor Todd McGrain began to build bronze memorials for five extinct species of birds-the great auk, Carolina parakeet, heath hen, passenger pigeon, and Labrador duck-and install them near the place where each species’ last member vanished from the earth. The publication of THE LOST BIRD PROJECT, a book that contains photographs from the memorial-making process along with mini-biographies of its winged subjects, marks the successful end of this remarkable and moving undertaking. Despite the fact that no one today has seen them alive, it’s possible, as McGrain has proven, to preserve the sculptural memory of these birds-the loss of which might be extinction’s greatest tragedy.
The heath hen and four other extinct North American birds - the great auk, Labrador duck, passenger pigeon, and Carolina parakeet - are memorialized in The Lost Bird Project by Todd McGrain and in a documentary with the same title. Over the past decade, McGrain, who is artist in residence at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, created bronze sculptures of the five birds. Each statue is installed at a site where the bird was last seen in the wild; the memorial to the heath hen is in Manuel F. Corellus State Forest on the Vineyard.
To honor these birds, and our loss of them, as this book will do, is a natural, necessary, and self-respecting part of our human journey.
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self
TODD MCGRAIN has been a sculptor for thirty years, the past ten of which he has dedicated to The Lost Bird Project. He is the artist in residence at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.