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The Lost Bird Project


Fairfield University Art Museum / Fairfield / Art

Labrador Duck. Passenger Pigeon. Heath Hen. Carolina Parakeet. Great Auk. If you’re a birder or an environmentalist you know what these bird species have in common. If you don’t know, it’s time you did. These are species that were once part of America’s native fauna, and are now extinct due to man’s inhumanity to bird. “Forgetting is another kind of extinction,” says the artist Todd McGrain. “It’s such a thorough erasing.” Which is why McGrain launched his Lost Bird Project, a series of stylized outdoor sculptures that he created to memorialize these lost species. Each sculpture is placed in a site where the bird was last seen. The flightless, sea-going Great Auk, for instance—a species that was at least 29,000 years old, was massacred in the 20th century for meat and feathers, and was gone by 1844—stands at a point on Fogo Island, Newfoundland. Meanwhile, a traveling exhibition of all five birds is now at Fairfield University. (A sixth bird, the Eskimo Curlew, was recently unveiled in Texas, at the Galveston Island State Park, where it was last seen in 1962.) —L.J.

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