UA Museum to Present ‘Ghost Bird’ Documentary
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — UA’s Alabama Museum of Natural History will host a screening of “Ghost Bird,” the documentary by Scott Crocker, at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, in room 205 of Smith Hall on The University of Alabama campus.
Admission is free and open to the public.
Set in a murky swamp overrun with birders, scientists and reporters, “Ghost Bird” explores the limits of certainty, the seductive power of hope and how one phantom woodpecker changed a sleepy Southern town.
Dr. Michael Steinberg, author and associate professor in the UA’s New College and the department of geography, will introduce the film and talk about his investigative research on the Ivory-billed woodpecker that he conducted while writing the book “Stalking the Ghost Bird.”
In 2005, scientists announced that the Ivory-billed woodpecker, a species thought to be extinct for 60 years, had been found in the swamps of eastern Arkansas. Other creatures have wrongly been presumed extinct, but the reappearance of the Ivory-bill was celebrated around the world as the rediscovery of a lifetime, prompting the largest recovery effort undertaken for a lost species.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a handful of birds in Arkansas,” Steinberg says. “I think there’s a small breeding population — I don’t think these are 60-year old birds.”
Millions of dollars poured in from the government while ornithologists and birders flooded the swamps to find the rare bird. The town of Brinkley, itself near the brink of extinction, was transformed by the hope, commerce and controversy surrounding their feathered friend. But, continued sightings by expert birders only highlighted the mysterious absence of credible evidence. Six years later, the woodpecker remains as elusive as ever.
“Ghost Bird” brings the Ivory-bill’s blurry rediscovery into focus revealing our uneasy relationship with nature and the increasing uncertainty of our place within it.
The Alabama Museum of Natural History is in Smith Hall at 426 Sixth Ave. on the UA campus. Operating hours are from 10 am to 4:30 pm Monday – Saturday. For more information, visit www.amnh.ua.edu or phone 205/348-7550.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.