Dr. Bridget Stutchbury and Producer JoAnne Jackson, both of “The Messenger,” drew birding crowds at three SNR events over the weekend.
A book by Stutchbury, a biologist and research professor at York University in Toronto, served as the inspiration for the documentary, which 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.
On Friday, Stutchbury and Jackson gave back-to-back presentations, followed by a reception and then the premiere of the film playing at The Ross.
On Saturday, the pair gathered with a small group to catch and band birds at Pioneers Park Chet Ager building.
All experiences were an opportunity to learn about the decline of songbird populations over the last few decades, what scientists are learning about the decline through their research and what people can do to help stop it.
During her lecture, Stutchbury talked about her research using geolocators on purple martins and wood thrushes to track their migratory patterns roundtrip. With that data, she said, scientists are able to answer conservation questions like never before.
“They say we can learn more in one year using a geolocator, than in 50 in bird banding,” Stutchbury said during her lecture.
In response to what her research has shown, Stutchbury has pushed to get shade-grown coffee to the forefront of people's minds. Shade-grown coffee maintains bird habitat, which is vital to maintaining what songbird populations are left.
Stutchbury is one of 12 scientists featured in the documentary film. During her lecture, Jackson talked about the scientists' work, but also about what went in to making a film that features migration, something that largely takes place at night.
“We wanted people to come away from the film feeling empathetic toward birds, to come away thinking about their future,” she said. “We wanted people to feel that connection.”
Locals still have the opportunity to feel that connection for themselves. The film will show through Thursday at The Ross, 313 N 13th St. For tickets, visit theross.org.
— Shawna Richter-Ryerson
More details at: http://go.unl.edu/gbc3