Songbird Documentary on CBC Nature of Things – March 19

Our team has been working on this multi-faceted project for almost five years and the first of two very different  international co-production documentaries is set to debut for Canadian viewers on CBC-TV’s The Nature Of Things, March 19, 2015 at 8 PM.    

Narrated by Dr. David Suzuki and directed by Su Rynard, The Nature of Things SongbirdSOS is an artfully-shot TV documentary about the mass depletion of songbirds in the Americas. It depicts an alarming thinning of populations that has seen declines of many species since the 1960s.  According to  York University’s  Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, who is featured in the program, we may have lost almost half the songbirds that filled the skies fifty years ago.

Hazards affecting songbirds include glass-enclosed high-rise buildings that account for up to a billion bird deaths annually, light pollution that disorients birds’ migratory flight paths, lost breeding and wintering habitats from rain forests to wetlands to boreal forests, oil pipelines and farm pesticides.


Tree Swallow in Saskatchewan

There’s unforgettable real-time front line research in SongbirdSOS. Michael Mesure of the volunteer army FLAP  (Fatal Light Awareness Program) Canada shows the toll on birds on a tour of particularly lethal Toronto buildings. Erin Bayne takes us into the Boreal Forest north of Edmonton, Alberta  to witness the impact of industry on North America’s biggest bird nursery.  In Saskatchewan avian eco-toxicologist Christy Morrissey discovers lethal neonicotinoids in the spring wetland water supply, ahead of its annual application by local farmers. In a revelatory sequence, Bridget Stutchbury equips northern Purple Martins with micro-chip backpacks that reveal the secrets of their oddly-non-linear migratory journeys to South America and back.

And there’s a glimpse of hope for the future, as Costa Rican coffee farmers learn from ornithologist Alejandra Martinez-Salinas about the benefits of pesticide-free shade-grown (and bird-friendly) coffee.

Over the course of a year, following the seasons and the birds, Director Su Rynard and the team set out on a journey of discovery.

“We discovered that the causes of songbird declines are many, and the solutions are few,” states  Rynard. “Yet everywhere we went, we met passionate people who are concerned and are working for change – as this is not just about the future of birds, it’s about the health of the planet too.”

SongbirdSOS Productions Inc. is pleased to welcome Bird Studies Canada as a National Outreach Partner for a Social Impact Campaign for this project.

Check out some related stories on the CBC Nature of Things website. 

Press Release about the CBC TV Nature of Things March 19 broadcast



SongbirdSOS featured on Green Divas Radio

su-rynard-portrait-songbird-sosDirector Su Rynard escaped from the edit suite to discuss SongbirdSOS on The Green Divas Radio Network.  (Su’s interview starts 22 minutes into the show) The Green Divas Radio show is a one hour weekly digital radio broadcast, which offers listeners low stress ways to love and live a  deeper shade of green.  Host Megan McWilliams and her partner Lynn Hasselberger consider themselves women with a mission for a more sustainable healthy planet. Humour, credible information and some awesome publishing and marketing skills are what The Green Divas bring to environmental issues.  You can hear the podcast featuring Su talking about our film in the Green Divas link above or through iTunes.

Çağan Şekercioğlu wins Award for Conservation Work

Çağan Şekercioğlu, a wildlife biologist and activist concerned with saving the wetlands in his native Turkey, has won his country’s highest science prize for his work in conservation. Çağan is also an ardent bird lover and photographer who will be featured in our documentary SongbirdSOS.

We filmed with Çağan at the Aras Valley Bird Paradise, a conservation site in Eastern Turkey. The region is a globally important wetland. “It’s an oasis,” said Çağan. “These birds are migrating from as far away as South Africa, 4000 kilometers away, on these very long, difficult journeys. This is an important stop-over place where they can rest, feed, breed and some actually winter here too.”

Şekercioğlu’s team of volunteers have recorded 247 bird species at Aras Valley so far and the numbers continue to climb as they study the region further.

Cagan with his team and the SongbirdSOS crew.

Cagan with his team and the SongbirdSOS crew.

Çağan said he was invited to apply for the award last year after he met with Turkish president Abdullah Gül to present him a petition to save the Aras River wetlands from a proposed dam.   There are plans in the works for an enormous dam that could destroy the natural wetland, compromising important bird and wildlife habitat.  “Turkey now ranks 121st out of 132 countries worldwide in biodiversity and habitat,” said Çağan. “The conservation situation in Turkey is becoming worse as environmental laws are being dismantled and literally being thrown aside.”

In spite of this challenging climate, Çağan and his team have been able to accomplish  a lot, including successfully campaigning the government to declare Eastern Turkey’s first protected wetland, building the country’s first bird nesting island and instituting the first wildlife corridor.

“If my receiving this award can convince the government to not destroy the wetlands where I do my scientific research, the cycle will be complete,” said Çağan.

Cagan laughing

Şekercioğlu was among five top international researchers selected for the 2014 awards by TUBITAK, the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey.  The award celebrates scientists from Turkey that work abroad (Çağan  is also a professor at the University of Utah in the USA). He is the first ecologist, ornithologist and conservation biologist to receive the prestigious award.

Çağan Şekercioğlu’s is the founder and director of the environmental organization KuzeyDoga KozeyDoga conducts long-term ecological research, biodiversity monitoring, community-based conservation and wetland restoration. It also promotes village-based bio-cultural tourism to provide financial incentives to local communities to support biodiversity and landscape conservation in Turkey.   

SongbirdSOS Newsletter#1

songbird_sos. image with bg.from Su's website_cropped


We are happy to announce that filming for our feature documentary SongbirdSOS is nearly complete. We are in the thick of editing now and look forward to sharing the film with audiences in the fall.

Humans share an intimate relationship with songbirds. The impulse to listen to their song and to capture them in our stories and music has existed for thousands of years. But this connection is in danger of being broken, as we have only half the birds now than we had in the 1960’s.

Over the last year the SongbirdSOS crew has been following and filming the birds around the globe — from Eastern Turkey to the Boreal Forest to New York City. We have touched down in places where songbirds are threatened and met the people from around the world who are working passionately to help them on their way.

While our development and production journey started four years ago, our journey to share this documentary with you and other people interested in birds and conservation issues starts now.

We will be announcing important dates and opportunities for involvement including details around film festivals, broadcasts and other screenings. We will also share highlights from the field through our blog. So please pass on this email if you know anyone who might be interested in the film. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

With your help we believe we can make a difference.

Our website and trailer will give you a glimpse of what to expect.

Dominik Eulberg_pic1_small


Our crew just wrapped shooting in France and Germany.  While there,  Director Su Rynard met with Martin Wikelski (Max Plank Institute)  who is on the cusp of tracking bird migration paths from outer space. The crew also partied with Dominik Eulberg, a raving ornithologist and famous DJ whose fascination with bird song inspires his electronic dance music.  Read more about our trip on our blog.





Bridget + Student


Our featured scientist this month is ornithologist and author Dr. Bridget Stutchbury. You will hear Bridget’s voice on our film trailer. Bridget wrote the highly acclaimed 2007 book, Silence of the Songbirds, a nominee for the Governor General’s Award, one of the most prestigous books awards in Canada. Bridget’s book was where our filmmaking journey began. Currently she is using ground-breaking geo-locator tracking devices to map bird migration routes across the globe. Read our blog post to find out more about her work.

FLAP launches birding apps for International Migratory Bird Day

FLAP has big plans for International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday May 10 2014, including the launch of two innovative citizen-science applications to their website.  Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) is a Toronto-based advocacy and rescue group that brings awareness to bird and building collisions.

FLAP has been a big part of the SongbirdSOS story since we began developing the concept of the documentary four years ago. The footage we have gathered with them so far is striking: tireless volunteers racing through the streets of Toronto in the early hours of morning, rescuing injured and dead birds littered across the sidewalks. Another major element to FLAP’s mandate is public outreach, and these new web tools are sure to bring more awareness to the issues.

The first tool is FLAP Mapper, which enables users to enter a bird collision with a building anywhere in the world on a live web map. The data entered will help FLAP and other organizations gain a deeper understanding of the bird collision issue, as well as inspire new methods to reduce the threat.

The second tool is FLAP Tracker, a Bird Migration Intensity Report that amalgamates weather conditions, the moon phase, and weather radar to create reports on the concentration of birds as they fly through the Great Lakes Region. The application will help alert home and building owners when to turn lights out at night and when to treat windows during the day.

FLAP also engages in advocacy on the ground. If you’re in the Toronto area on Migratory Bird Day, be sure to check out their booths at Tommy Thompson Park at the Leslie Spit and the Toronto Zoo.

What are your plans for International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday?


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