Eskimo Curlew Sculpture to be Installed

Eskimo Curlew Sculpture

To Be Installed By March 29

Last Updated: March 15, 2020 by Lee Roane | Nature, Events, Birding

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The Eskimo Curlew was last seen on Galveston’s west end in the early 1960s. Prior to that is was a common shorebird with flocks migrating from South American to Canada and Alaska. Today, most assume it is extinct.

It is in a club with other lost birds like the Great Auk last seen in Newfoundland, the Passenger Pigeon last seen in Ohio, the Labrador Duck last seen in New York, the Carolina Parakeet last seen in Florida, and the Heath Hen last seen in Martha’s Vineyard.

Great Auk Sculpture in Newfoundland
Great Auk Sculpture, Fogo Island, Newfoundland The Lost Bird Project

The Lost Bird Project

Introduce yourself to Todd McGrain and The Lost Bird Project, an ode to vanished times and vanished species. McGrain works with communities to place bronze sculptures of extinct birds at locations near the site where the species was last seen.

“Forgetting that these birds ever existed is another kind of extinction,” McGrain said. “It takes real work to preserve habitat, raise awareness, and mitigate the factors that adversely affect bird populations.”

He has placed sculptures in Newfoundland, Ohio, New York, Florida, and Martha’s Vineyard. Galveston’s Eskimo Curlew will be installed by March 29.  Unfortunately, the public unveiling scheduled for March 29 has been cancelled.

Todd McGain with The Lost Bird Project
Todd McGrain The Lost Bird Project

The Bryan Museum Exhibit

The opening of a special exhibit of five large bronzes, representative of the other permanent Lost Bird Project sculptures located throughout North America, will be shown in the gardens of The Bryan Museum from March 29 through September 13. There is no charge to view the exhibit and learn about these once-thriving birds. The thought-provoking memorial links art with natural history, and highlights humans’ impact on biodiversity. Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council, Houston Audubon, and The Bryan Museum have partnered to bring these elements of The Lost Bird Project to the island.

The previously scheduled unveiling at The Bryan Museum has been cancelled but the exhibit will go on as planned.

The Documentary

The Lost Bird Project documentary follows the roadtrip 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 at those locations.

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.

Galveston is Lucky

If you watched the documentary, you will understand the struggles Todd McGrain endured to get the first five sculptures installed. The story was a bit different for Galveston and the Eskimo Curlew Sculpture. I have watched the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council raise funds and negotiate the politics for several years to make this a reality. I say “thank you” to them and everyone that helped and donated money.

Visit the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council website for more information.

Lee Roane

Lee Roane has worked on the Galveston.com website since 1994. He is interested in history and birding but will write about anything if he thinks it will help someone enjoy the island.

Lee Roane
2020-03-15T11:32:46-05:00

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