Saturday, July 25, 2009


Above is a recent brood of three young osprey who were residing at a rather unlikely, yet hopeful place: on a telephone pole in the former Georgia Pacific Paper Mill sight on Kings Highway in Kalamazoo, right on the Kalamazoo River. The irony rests in the fact that the paper plant was a huge source of the very contaminants that were killing the osprey. It's a sweet, complete circle.

Well, I'm planning on doing some kind of "reporting" or documenting of this auspicious nesting. Mainly because it's a symbol of hope, given the decline of successful breeding by both osprey and eagle on the Kalamazoo river due to concentrations of PCB's in the food chain. The accumulation of toxins through the food chain, beginning with the aquatic link and working up into the big birds, consequently weakens the shell of the Osprey's eggs such that they collapse and never hatch. 

This trend, however, has subsided somewhat(?) with a gradual clean up and settling of contaminants in the Kalamazoo River. To what extent I'm not entirely sure, but the osprey seem to be bouncing back, as well as the eagle. The Georgia Pacific nest is testament to a degree of recovery, and a measure of hope.

There's been a setback though, in the death of two chicks. There's no definitive cause at this point, but speculation includes first time parenting skills (or lack there of), attacks from an aggressive bald eagle, disease, or perhaps contaminant related illness. I'll be following up on this story soon with a more in-depth piece. 

This story also highlights the fragility of life in the animal kingdom, not at all unlike our own susceptibility to illness, disease or death. It also touches upon the intervention of medical care, even for our animal brethren, which happened with the young osprey as well as during the making of ANIMALS AMONG US. 

During production for ANIMALS AMONG US, I got wind of a wounded hawk in our vicinity and successfully located the person who found the wounded bird as well as the facility that housed it. I documented the story and wanted to include it in the film but ultimately the scene never made the cut because we could never verify that the wounded bird was indeed one of our juvenile hawks. 

Here's the deleted scene in rough cut form, without music. It's particularly profound to me because of the interaction of humans in the life and welfare of such a beautiful bird. People really cared about this hawk.

My biggest regret in the filming of this scene was spending the entire time documenting the bird, and never putting the camera down to check the bird out in the flesh. I had a rare opportunity to see, and touch(!) a live hawk right in front of my face. What a thrill that would have been. Instead, I had a giant camera between me and such a magnificent bird. 
The sacrifices we make for our art.

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