Film, events to focus on effects of songbird decline

· 3 min read

Film, events to focus on effects of songbird decline

In eastern Turkey's Aras River wetland, volunteer Michael Ford releases a songbird back into the wild.
Courtesy photo
In eastern Turkey's Aras River wetland, volunteer Michael Ford releases a songbird back into the wild.

The decline of songbirds will be explored in a film premiere and other events April 22 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The documentary “The Messenger” chronicles the struggle of songbirds worldwide to survive in turbulent environmental conditions brought about by humans. The film, by award-winning director Su Rynard, argues that songbirds’ demise could signify the crash of ecosystems globally, akin to the disappearance of honeybees and the melting of glaciers. The film will premiere at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, 313 N. 13th St.

More than a dozen scientists were featured in the film, including Bridget Stutchbury, biologist at York University in Toronto. She will give a presentation about tracking bird migration at 2 p.m. at the Hardin Hall Auditorium, 3310 Holdrege St., and will discuss how her research on purple martins’ and wood thrushes’ migration could help save songbirds.

“Our modern-day canaries in the coal mine are not in little cages; instead it’s the wild birds,” Stutchbury said. “When we see the health of the populations going down, it’s like seeing the canary falling off its perch. We know that there’s a huge problem with the environment that needs to be fixed.”

Producer JoAnne Jackson will co-present starting at 3:15 p.m. and will give insight into the research behind the film and what went into making the documentary on migration, which largely happens at night.

Seating for the presentation is limited. To ensure a seat, those interested are urged to RSVP at or 402-420-2553. A reception will follow the presentation.

The women also will be part of a question-and-answer session following the film premiere at the Ross. To purchase tickets, click here. The premiere is sponsored by the UNL School of Natural Resources, The Wild Bird Habitat Store and Nebraska International Migratory Bird Month.

Stutchbury is affiliated with more than a dozen organizations that seek to preserve bird habitats. Her book, “Silence of the Songbirds,” is a best-seller.

Jackson is an award-winning documentary and television producer. She has supervised many series and specials at YTV, WTN, Animal Planet Canada and Discovery HD.

For more information on the film, click here.

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