The Lost Bird Project

About This Episode


The Lost Bird Project is a documentary about the stories of five birds driven to extinction in modern times and sculptor Todd McGrain’s project to memorialize them. The film follows the road-trip that McGrain and his brother-in-law, Andy, take as they search for the locations where the birds were last seen in the wild and negotiate for permission to install McGrain’s large bronze sculptures there.

Traveling all the way from the tropical swamps of Florida to Martha’s Vineyard to the rocky coasts of Newfoundland over a period of two years, they scout locations, talk to park rangers, speak at town meetings and battle bureaucracy in their effort to gather support for the project. McGrain’s aim in placing the sculptures is to give presence to the birds where they are now so starkly absent. “These birds are not commonly known,” he says, “and they ought to be, because forgetting is another kind of extinction. It’s such a thorough erasing.”

The Lost Bird Project is a film about public art, extinction and memory. It is an elegy to five extinct North American birds and a thoughtful, moving, sometimes humorous look at the artist and his mission.