Southeast, MDC Cape Nature Center Partner to present ‘The Messenger’

Songbird Documentary Presented by MDC Naturalists, Southeast Ornithologist/Wildlife Toxicologist

messenger croppedCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 1, 2016 — The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center and Southeast Missouri State University’s College of Science, Technology, and Agriculture have partnered to bring an important new documentary viewing to the area.

“The Messenger” will show April 14 at the MDC’s Cape Nature Center at 7 p.m., with a panel discussion hosted by Dr. Rebecka Brasso, assistant professor of ornithology and wildlife toxicology at Southeast, directly following the viewing.

“The Messenger,” a new documentary by award-winning filmmaker Su Rynard, chronicles the struggle of songbirds worldwide to survive in turbulent environmental conditions brought about by humans. It argues that their demise could signify the crash of the ecosystems globally, akin to the disappearance of honey bees and the melting of the glaciers. Moving from the northern reaches of the Boreal Forest to the base of Mount Ararat to the urban streets of New York, ‘The Messenger’ brings viewers face-to-face with a remarkable variety of human-made perils—hunting, light pollution, high-rise collisions, pipelines, pesticides and loss of migratory habitats— that have devastated thrushes, warblers, orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks and many other airborne music-makers.

The release of this award-winning documentary is timely according to Jamie Koehler, the assistant manager of the center. MDC naturalists are focused on songbirds this year as they remember the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916, celebrating 100 years of migratory bird conservation. The Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 was a convention between the United States and Great Britain for the protection of migratory birds, signed Aug. 16, 1916, in an effort to conserve birds that migrate across international borders. The treaty connects MDC and other federal, state, private, non-government, tribal and international partners who work to conserve and protect migratory birds and their habitats.

“Migratory birds connect people with nature; they add phenomenal beauty to our world through their song and bright colors,” Koehler said. “They have several important responsibilities in nature that we can’t do without such as working as pollinators, controlling bug populations, and spreading seeds.”  Not only do birds play important ecological roles, but they also play an important role in the U.S. economy as bird-watching creates hundreds of thousands  of jobs and generates more than $100 billion in revenue each year through equipment sales and birding trip-related expenditures.

Mirroring Koehler’s sentiments, Brasso adds, “This undeniable conspicuousness of birds, their accessibility, and the important functional roles they play in their ecosystems all lend to why birds are one of the most commonly used organisms in studies examining human impacts on the environment…and it is time for us to listen to the message they are sending.”

No reservations are needed for this community event, and all ages are welcome. For more information on this and other events at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, visit or call (573)290-5218. The center is located inside Cape Girardeau’s North County Park, just east of Interstate 55 (Exit 99) and Kingshighway (State Highway 61).