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Ghost Bird (2009)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 6 May 2009 (USA)
2:17 | Trailer

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Ghost Bird is a non-fiction feature about a small town in Arkansas, an extinct giant woodpecker and everybody looking for the Holy Grail of birding - the Ivory-billed woodpecker. Following ... See full summary »


Scott Crocker


Scott Crocker





Cast overview, first billed only:
Katie Jacques Katie Jacques ... Herself - General Manager, The Brinkley Argus
Sandra Kemmer Sandra Kemmer ... Herself - Executive Director, Brinkley Chamber of Commerce
Billy Clay Billy Clay ... Himself - Mayor of Brinkley
Ronnie Steinbeck Ronnie Steinbeck ... Himself - Hunting & Birding Guide
Paul Swenby Paul Swenby ... Himself - Colorado Birders
Rose Swenby Rose Swenby ... Herself - Colorado Birders
Gene DePriest Gene DePriest ... Himself - Gene's Bar-B-Que
Penny Childs Penny Childs ... Herself - Penny's Family Hair Care
Eugene Dover Eugene Dover ... Himself - Rice Farmer
David Luneau David Luneau ... Himself - Associate Professor, University of Arkansas Little Rock
John Fitzpatrick John Fitzpatrick ... Himself - Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology (archive footage) (as Dr. John Fitzpatrick)
Mike Mills Mike Mills ... Himself - Arkansas River Guide
Nancy Tanner Nancy Tanner ... Herself - Wife of Ornithologist Jim Tanner
David Allen Sibley David Allen Sibley ... Himself - Bird Guide Author & Illustrator (as David Sibley)
Jerome Jackson Jerome Jackson ... Himself - World's Foremost Ivory-Bill Biologist (as Dr. Jerome Jackson)


Ghost Bird is a non-fiction feature about a small town in Arkansas, an extinct giant woodpecker and everybody looking for the Holy Grail of birding - the Ivory-billed woodpecker. Following numerous sightings and its widely announced rediscovery in 2005, the world's best birders have been unable to locate even one "Lord God Bird" after over three years of intensive searching. Ghost Bird examines the meaning of hope, faith and the limits of certainty in the quest to resurrect this lost species...unless, like the Holy Grail itself, the Ivory-bill remains forever out of reach. Written by 2007©small change productions

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Not Rated


Official Sites:

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Release Date:

6 May 2009 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Arkansas, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Thomas Jacques: There was a small garment factory here until just about a year ago. They made shirts for Wal-Mart. I can't exactly trace where those particular jobs went to, but you, I think you can assume they went to a place where they could be made even more cheaply than they could in the American South.
Thomas Jacques: That's what our draw has been, you know - leave the North and come to us. We'll work for dirt. And we've found out people in other places will work for much less dirt.
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Written & Performed by Zoe Keating
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User Reviews

This Documentary Exposes a Great Scientific Debacle
9 September 2012 | by chas437See all my reviews

This superb documentary exposes one of the most egregious cases of "faith based scientific fraud" in recent times. This fraud was perpetrated by the most prestigious Ornithological institution in the US no less, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The manner in which the Lunard video was handled by a team of "researchers" from Cornell is scandalous. This video should have been vetted by all the top field ornithologists in America, before it was published in Science Magazine as definitive proof that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers still persist. Several top "birders", most notably David Sibley, exposed the amateurish mistake almost immediately. But by this point it was too late, the Ivory-bill frenzy was in full swing.

Without going into the details, which are well chronicled in the documentary, Cornell has refused any comment on the situation, hiding behind the weak argument that "it can't be proved that Ivory-billeds are extinct", and hoping that the passage of time will cause this incident to blow over. Meanwhile, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who originally bought this crock hook, line and sinker, have backed off the Ivory-billed Recovery Plan, stating that "conditions for recovery are inadequate", instead of admitting that the bird is extinct.

For the record, the American Birding Association voted 7-0, not to accept any recent reports of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. The Florida Rare Bird Committee did the same. This scandal should have shaken the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to its core, but it appears they have been successful at diverting blame, while remaining tight lipped about the entire episode.

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