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Lab of Ornithology debuts its first feature film

“Bird of Prey,” the first feature documentary produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, was released to the public June 13. It tells the story of the great Philippine eagle, the largest and rarest bird of prey in the world. Above, a great Philippine eagle chick. Photo by Neil Rettig/Provided

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s debut feature film, the award-winning documentary, “Bird of Prey,” is now available for rent or purchase on iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo.

“Bird of Prey” weaves stunning natural history footage of the critically endangered great Philippine eagle with the remarkable story of wildlife cinematographer Neil Rettig and a small group of conservationists from the Philippine Eagle Foundation, who work tirelessly to save the bird from extinction.

The film follows Rettig’s return to the Philippines 36 years after he and his crew captured the first-ever recorded images of the eagle in the wild. Decades later, Rettig returns to the Philippine jungle on a grueling expedition to find the reclusive raptor and once again film a pair of eagles as they attempt to raise a newborn chick.

“Remarkably, the wild chick was born the first day we were rolling cameras in the forest,” said director Eric Liner, from the Lab of Ornithology. “It was incredibly exciting and dramatic, but it also came with the disquieting realization that we couldn’t be sure if the chick would survive.”

With fewer than 400 breeding pairs left in the wild, the Philippine eagle is considered the world’s rarest bird of prey and the future survival of the species is in doubt.

“Bird of Prey” is available for rent or purchase on iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo. Sales from the film go directly to supporting the continued conservation efforts of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.