Bird of Prey (93 minutes; Cornell Lab of
Normally, showing a full-length film is
no substitute for instruction, but the new
film Bird of Prey showcases so many environmental science themes within an interesting
and captivating context that it can be highly
recommended for upper-level high school
biology or environmental science classes as
a case study of concepts. It covers such
themes as conservation, evolution, extinction, and environmental justice. These ideas
are somewhat complex, so younger students
might not understand their importance.
Showcasing footage from award-winning
cinematographer Neil Rettig (best known for
his work on Nature, The Living Planet, and
National Geographic Explorer), “Bird of Prey”
promotes the plight of the Philippine Eagle –
the most highly endangered eagle species in
the world. Impacted by habitat loss and
increased human interactions, the Philippine
Eagle is so adorable that students can’t help
but be captivated by its comical expressions.
In addition, footage of cityscapes, classrooms,
and village life provide an interesting glimpse
into the Philippine culture.
Furthermore, because the film was produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it
aligns with the lab’s long-standing devotion
to protection and conservation of bird species.
Bird of Prey chronicles conservation efforts,
such as the successful hatching of an eaglet in
a captive breeding program, and also attempts
to locate and document a hatchling in the
wild. This could serve as a great starting point
for discussions related to habitat vs. species-centric conservation, benefits and drawbacks
of captive breeding programs, or conservation
of K- versus r-selected species.
Using Bird of Prey as a case study of en-
vironmental justice was overlooked in the
film’s promotional materials and is never
overtly mentioned in the film. Nevertheless,
it is a perfect kickstarter for a discussion
about demographic transition, stewardship,
and sustainability. Sharing the historical
context of slash-and-burn farming and the
impact of innovation on commercial for-
estry, the film does an excellent job of
describing the interplay between society,
policy, and the environment.
Bird of Prey is available to rent ($4.99) or
buy ($12.99) on Amazon, i Tunes, and Vimeo.
All proceeds will be used by the Cornell Lab
of Ornithology to support continued avian
conservation efforts. Teachers will be happy
to know that a few educator resources can
be found in the lab’s K–12 Education library
Orting High School STEM Educator
Orting, WA 98360
The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 81, No. 9, p. 677, ISSN 0002-7685, electronic ISSN 1938-4211. © 2019 National Association of Biology Teachers. All rights
reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Reprints and Permissions web page,
https://www.ucpress.edu/journals/reprints-permissions. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2019.81.9.677.
THE AMERICAN BIOLOGY TEACHER CLASSROOM MATERIALS & MEDIA REVIEWS
JEFFREY D. SACK, DEPARTMENT EDITOR