Video Conference for the Birds, 2023

Conference for the Birds celebrates the lives of the birds Thomas Bewick depicted in his wood engravings. His book A History of British Birds, first published in 1797 was a comprehensive guide to both the appearance and behaviour of birds.

Seven different bird species discuss their lives with each other. The birds, played by wildlife experts, have an improvised discussion on topics ranging from migration to predation, with each species speaking about the challenges they face day to day.

Bird voices

Blackbird — Geoff Sample

Cuckoo — Helen Macdonald

Dotterel — Marcus Coates

Great black-backed gull — Sally Reay

Heron — Ceri Levy

Roseate tern — Tom Cadwallender

Tree sparrow — Muriel Cadwallender

With thanks to

Grant Joffe

Maggi Davies

Jo Phelps

Bird heads made by Marcus Coates, with assistance from Lisa Darrer, Claire Pritchard and Rosalind Wilson

Original audio recording and editing — David de la Haye

Video production assistant — Gracie May Coates

Video editing — Dom Del Torto

Video sound edit — House of Noise

With thanks to Croome, National Trust for their cooperation and production assistance.

This film was produced as part of the On-site/Off-site project, led by Newcastle University in partnership with the Bewick Society and National Trust. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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