Museum to Present Documentary, "Ghost Bird"

Friday, January 21, 2011

The KU Natural History Museum will present a film that explores the role of science, emotion and the media in the reported sighting of an extinct bird.

“Ghost Bird,” a 2010 documentary, will be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, in the Panorama Gallery at the museum. Following the film, ornithologist Mark Robbins will lead a talk-back session titled “Conservation and the Ivory Bill Fantasy.”

Set in a murky swamp overrun with birders, scientists and reporters, “Ghost Bird” looks at the 2005 announcement that the ivory-billed woodpecker, a species thought to be extinct for 60 years, had been found in the swamps of eastern Arkansas.

The announcement made headlines globally and prompted the largest recovery effort ever undertaken for a lost species. Millions of dollars poured in while ornithologists and birders flocked to the swamps to find the bird.

At the same time, evidence mounted that the original video sighting was in error. The film weaves together the work of scientists who disputed the sighting with the characters of the small town of Brinkley, Ark., which was transformed by the hope, commerce and controversy surrounding the bird.

More information about the film and its theatrical trailer can be found at

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