Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Last of the Curlews: A Lost Bird's Life

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Eskimo Curlew, Courlis esquimau (Numenius borealis)
March, 1962 on Galveston Island, Texas
Photo by: Don Bleitz, Copyright held by Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, CA

The Eskimo Curlew is a "modern extinction" along with the Passenger Pigeon, Labrador Duck, Carolina Parakeet, et al. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds:

"Until the 1870s, immense flocks of Eskimo Curlews migrating in fall through the Canadian Maritime provinces and New England fattened up on blueberries and fruits of other heathland shrubs before heading south over the Atlantic Ocean to South America. Similarly sized flocks en route north in the spring fed upon grasshoppers and other insects in the Great Plains.

Despite its vast numbers, the Eskimo Curlew population was devastated over just a 20-year period, and was rarely seen after 1890. Now it is almost certainly extinct."

Last of the Curlews: Feral Theatre at TEDxWhitechapel

Last of the Curlews is one of three stories taken from Feral Theatre's award-winning 2012 play, Triptych. It shines a light on historic forces, resurrecting the lost individuals behind larger ecological narratives as it describes the beauty of a disappearing world through the eyes of a bird on the edge of extinction. Flying with the curlew, Feral Theatre performers explore their own experiences of loneliness and love, and the magnitude of chance events. Closely examining an annual cycle in this lost bird's life, the piece questions the adequacy of science in telling the whole story. Dancing through this work are the ghosts of birds and vanishing places, beckoning us to consider what their disappearance means to us.

The company performing at TED are Emily Laurens, Persephone Pearl, Ben MacFadyen and Tom Cook. Shadow puppets made by Emily Laurens, original score composed by Tom Cook. www.feraltheatre.co.uk

Eskimo Curlew, Courlis esquimau (Numenius borealis)
March, 1962 on Galveston Island, Texas
Photo by: Don Bleitz, Copyright held by Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, CA
"The images taken by Bleitz on this day represent the entire photographic record of this species in the wild. More images from this day, including color photos, are held by WFVZ."

"It is not by accident that the pristine wilderness of our planet disappears as the understanding of our own inner wild fades." ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

"The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again." ~ William Beebe

About Feral Theatre

Feral Theatre was founded in 2007 by Emily Laurens, Persephone Pearl and Rachel Porter. We bring exciting performance to both conventional and unconventional spaces, exploring themes and stories with the aim of bridging gaps: between the inner world and the outside world, the ancient and the contemporary, the theatrical and the personal. We want to create vibrant experiences that examine difficult themes such as death, fear, loss and isolation, exploring the possibility of making them bearable and even beautiful. Feral Theatre creates a unique kind of theatre that endeavours to embody and represent the wild parts in each of us: the creative, the aware, the questioning.

Eskimo Curlew Migration Routes

International Union for Conservation of Nature: Conserving Biodiversity
Numenius borealis (Eskimo Curlew)
Status: Critically Endangered
Population Trend: Unknown

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