Artist statement: Kent Island and the Albatross 1913 - 2013
(A bit of local history is required)

An Albatross may be the sea bird most connected to human experience.
A Talisman related to man's fate if not destiny.
The warning in the story is always clear "Never harm an Albatross".

On August 1, 1913 Ernest Joy was in the Bay of Fundy off Machias Seal Island likely looking to fish and hunt.

Over roiling waters, the conditions where sea birds will circle for food, Joy shot down a large and unfamiliar bird. Ernest Joy brought the carcass to Allan Moses, an ornithologist, naturalist and resident of Grand Manan Island NB. Moses identified the large bird as a Yellow Billed Albatross. The southern hemisphere native flyer was close to seven thousand miles away from home. Perhaps the bird was driven into the Bay of Fundy by Atlantic weather conditions.

Through Moses' savvy, the Albatross was traded to Dr. Sanford as an important specimen for the ornithology department being assembled for the newly established American Museum of Natural History. In return for the bird skin, Moses was given positions on two of Sterling Rockefeller's' scientific expeditions to Africa. On the second expedition Moses shot the rare African Green Broad-bill. To collect this exotic specimen was the goal of the second voyage.

To show gratitude, Rockefeller granted Moses' request to turn Kent Island (off the coast of Grand Manan) into a bird sanctuary to protect a nesting, breeding ground of Northern Eider Ducks. At the time the Northern Eiders were being more than decimated for their meat, eggs and feathers.

To this day Bowdoin College (Maine) continues to run the research station on Kent Island. Kent remains a Canadian island operated as a sanctuary by the American College. The protected species are Herring Gulls, Savannah Sparrows, Storm Petrels and Northern Eider Ducks. Likely hundreds of thousands of birds lives have been saved by these events. The Albatross remains in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History to this day.

It seems we inhabit a tiny edge of history. To observe the avian world around us is to look at a long view. It is said that birds are the dinosaurs amongst us. Their beauty is refined and infinitely varied. Their bones are a finer network than any lace I have ever seen, made so to keep the weight less when airborne.

To understand bird psychology is beyond me. But I have watched numbers of these creatures specifically adapt to their often endangered and connected lives with humans.

After reading the story of this particular Albatross' fate it became a calling of sorts to find it, hopefully still in the American Museum of Natural History. It didn't take very long, thanks to Mary Le Croy the Head Archivist of Ornithology at the AMNH.

I made a visit to see the bird in September last year (2012) with my cousin Adair Rowland. After our morning with Mary and the bird we both felt strongly that this creature had asked us to tell it's story.