Earth Day with George Butler and “The Lord God Bird” at the Berkshire Museum

"Elusive Ivory" - Ivory-billed Woodpecker by artist Larry Chandler

George Butler’s documentary, The Lord God Bird, is as rarely seen as the ivory-billed woodpecker, supposedly extinct, yet there are those who claim to have discovered it deep in the swamps of Arkansas. It is a fascinating tale and makes Butler’s documentary as rare as the bird itself since the film has never been released to theaters.

The documentary enables us to follow the die-hard believers and skeptics as they investigate the report of this rare species surviving mankind’s depredations. The film screenings are scheduled for Sunday, April 22, at 2 and 7 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session with the film’s director, George Butler, after each screening. To be shown on Earth Day, the film is part of the programming planned to complement the Museum’s current exhibition Taking Flight: Audubon and the World of Birds. Tickets are $8, $6 for Museum members. Tickets are available in advance by calling 413.443.7171, ext 10, or by visiting the Museum’s service desk.

About George Butler and this Documentary

Documentary filmmaker, author, and photographer George Butler, president of White Mountain Films (, has been producing and directing movies that have explored the obscure and unknown for more than thirty years.

According to the White Mountain Films website, the report in the spring of 2005 that the ivory-billed woodpecker had been sighted in Arkansas made front-page news across the country. The rarest of rare birds, the ivory-bill is so spectacular that, by folk legend, those who see it spontaneously cry out “Lord God!” While many saw the discovery as a piece of rare good news from the conservation front, to the inner circle of bird enthusiasts it was the latest installment in a very old tale of hope and survival. The Lord God Bird deals with the full implications of the issue of extinction — an issue that follows in the wake of climate change as a matter of critical global importance.

The ivory-billed woodpecker was once common throughout the Southeast, living in old growth cypress swamps. Following the Civil War, the South began a rebuilding effort, for which thousands of tracts of forest were sacrificed. The loss of wildlife accompanied the loss of the forests, and the ivory-billed woodpecker eventually vanished and was believed extinct. In the 1920s the ivory-bill was sighted, beginning a pattern of rare appearances through the decades. Some of the reappearances have been caught on film; sometimes only its distinctive voice has been recorded. The latest rediscovery was reported after two years of investigative studies by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Made in association with The Nature Conservancy, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and National Geographic Feature Films, this strikingly beautiful film, with music by Paul Cantelon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), is the first in a planned trilogy of films dealing with extinction by director George Butler.

About the Berkshire Museum

Berkshire Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit or call 413.443.7171. Museum admission is $13 for adults and $6 for children. Members and children aged three and under enjoy free admission.

The Museum is located at 39 South Street on Route 7 in downtown Pittsfield. Berkshire Museum is the first public museum in Berkshire County, established by Zenas Crane in 1903 as a museum of art and natural history. Taking Flight: Audubon and the World of Birds is on view through June 17, 2012. Bryan Nash Gill: Beyond the Landscape is on view through May 28. David Henderson: A Brief History of Aviation is on view through May 13. Little Cinema is now open year-round. Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Aquarium, Alexander Calder Gallery, and other exhibits are ongoing.

One thought on “Earth Day with George Butler and “The Lord God Bird” at the Berkshire Museum

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