THE BIRD TREE
“Today, we are eliminating over a thousand times more species than we were before the industrial era. This extinction on a massive scale, the sixth such episode in Earth’s history, is caused by man. And man could well be the victim.” – HUBERT REEVES
The Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal team put all its passion and expertise into creating The Bird Tree. This emblematic work espouses the theme: Earth’s endangered species and ecosystems.
The Bird Tree’s branches transform themselves into 56 bird species, while its roots change into a Kakapo (also referred to as an owl parrot, the only parrot unable to fly) and six species of amphibians and reptiles. All these species—birds, amphibians, reptiles—are among the most endangered on Earth, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Québec’s indigenous Red-headed Woodpecker and Piping Plover are some of the species shown flying away from The Bird Tree, as though they were trying to escape the extinction that threatens them and that has already decimated Labrador’s Eider population and eliminated the Dodo and the Passenger Pigeon.
At the base of The Bird Tree, a salamander, a turtle, a frog and an iguana emerge from the roots in defiance of the threat they face.
Planted in the middle of a basin to symbolize the mangroves of Sundarban, coastal ecosystems of tremendous biological abundance that are seriously threatened, The Bird Tree represents nature in its wild state, something man must preserve at all costs.
The creation of this work—16 metres tall, with a crown 18 metres in diameter—proved challenging to the MIM team, particulary as concerns the structural aspect, the choice of plants and maintenance considerations.
Engineers determined the trunk and branches should be able to withstand several tons, given the weight of the birds positioned in a cantilevered manner, with wing spans easily reaching four metres.
The colours of the plants chosen had to match that of the plumage of each of the birds represented. Blue-coloured birds presented a particular challenge, as that colour is not found in mosaiculture plants. The team also chose species and varieties that could tolerate the shade under each bird.
The tree is equipped with tie-down rings, to which the horticulturists in charge of maintenance can attach straps, lanyards or ropes allowing them to fasten their harnesses by means of snap hooks.