MDC Cape Nature Center, Southeast Missouri State University partner to present The Messenger

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center and Southeast Missouri State University’s (SEMO) College of Science, Technology, and Agriculture have partnered to bring an important new documentary viewing to the area. The Messenger will show Thursday, 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 SEMO, 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 and 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 us 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, MDC assistant manager of the nature 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 Treating 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 100,000s of jobs and generates over $100 billion in revenue each year through equipment sales and birding trip-related expenditures. 

“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,” said Dr. Brasso. “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. The center is located inside Cape Girardeau's North County Park, just east of Interstate 55 (Exit 99) and Kingshighway (State Highway 61). For more information on this and other nature programs go online to or call (573)290-5218.