Ghost Bird

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 11


Audience Score

User Ratings: 94
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Movie Info

It is estimated that between 50 and 70 million Americans pursue bird watching as a hobby, and most of them are people who thrive on the prospect of finding a specimen they haven't seen before. In February 2004, a birder kayaking in an Arkansas swamp videotaped what he believed was a remarkable find -- an ivory-billed woodpecker, a large and impressive creature that was believed to have been extinct for half a century after unregulated clear-cutting of forests destroyed its habitat. The sighting was major news among avian researchers, and Cornell University's Ornithology Lab sent a team to Arkansas in hopes of finding a living ivory-billed woodpecker. Hundreds of bird watchers followed them to Brinkley, AR, in hopes of seeing the great bird themselves, and in a town that had been caught in an economic tailspin, the appearance of the woodpecker seemed like a stroke of remarkable good luck. Soon local entrepreneurs were opening gift shops and motels to take advantage of the influx of birders, and a local barber even devised a "woodpecker haircut." But amidst the excitement came a number of researchers who said that they had little hard evidence that what had been sighted was in fact an ivory-billed woodpecker, leading to a contentious debate among bird fanciers and folks in Brinkley who didn't want to lose their windfall. Filmmaker Scott Crocker takes an in-depth look at the sudden reappearance of the ivory-billed woodpecker and its many consequences in the documentary Ghost Bird, which was an official selection at the 2009 Hot Docs International Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for Ghost Bird

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (5)

  • An unassuming, clear-headed documentary about the hope that heaven and Earth may have actually produced a miracle, at least this time around, and allowed a species back from extinction.

    Aug 5, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The movie is impressive for its sophisticated take on blind hope.

    Sep 16, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Scott Crocker has turned a bird-watching tale into a multilayered story that will fascinate practically everybody.

    Apr 30, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Backed by an eclectic soundtrack, Crocker's 2009 doc traces the hubbub around the decades-departed ivory-billed woodpecker, purportedly rediscovered near Brinkley, Arkansas.

    Apr 28, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Thanks to Scott Crocker's crisply edited balance of scientific backbiting, naturalist noodling and a macro-philosophizing of what this possible rediscovery might mean, what could have been a niche-specific doc becomes something oddly compelling...

    Apr 28, 2010 | Rating: 3/5

    David Fear

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Crocker crafts a surprisingly suspenseful tale as he follows the battle of experts on each side as well as the more fundamental tug of war between faith and empiricism.

    Sep 23, 2014 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Ghost Bird

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