KTOO's 'Shorebirds' wins national award

Honor is highest given by group that showcases projects not on major networks

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2002

"Celebrating Alaska's Shorebirds," a documentary produced by local public station KTOO-TV, has won a Silver Telly Award in the nature/wildlife category.

Silver Telly Awards are the highest honors given by the Telly Awards, an independent group established in 1980 to showcase programs and commercials that have not aired on the four major networks, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.

Each spring, hundreds of species of shorebirds return to their nesting grounds in Alaska, some traveling up to 20,000 miles annually. "Celebrating Alaska's Shorebirds" catches the birds as they arrive on Alaska's rich tide flats to refuel, then follows them north to their nesting grounds on the sub-arctic tundra.

The half-hour program explores the natural history of the shorebirds, scientific research on populations, prey and breeding, and habitat issues that challenge the birds as they travel along the coasts of North and South America.

It joins a field trip with the Shorebirds Sisters Schools Program as Alaska students share their observations with students in Argentina and Japan. Shorebird festivals in Cordova and Homer are featured.

KTOO videographer Skip Gray, who shot the documentary, taped footage in nesting grounds on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. He said most of the footage was shot on the Stikine and Copper River deltas and the Homer Spit in Kachemak Bay, where birds feed.

The deceptively barren tide flats hide huge quantities of tiny marine worms, clams, and other critters that fuel the shorebirds until they arrive at their nesting grounds.

"Skip deserves a lot of credit for that, he put his heart and soul into it. He has a real passion for birds," said KTOO Station Manager Jim Mahan.

Mahan and Sandra Frost of U.S. Forest Service served as executive producers. The program, a threeyear project, was co-produced by former Juneau resident Kevin Hartwell, now living in Anchorage, and by KTOO's Theresa Tavel.

"Terry Tavel, who edited the program, also co-produced it, and did a lot of work in the (editing) suite making that program come alive," Mahan said.

"Celebrating Alaska's Shorebirds" was produced for air on Alaska's public television stations and for educational use in primary and secondary schools in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and central South America. The program was aired on Alaska One (KTOO) television Wednesday. The video is distributed through the state by The Alaska Natural History Association, and is available at KTOO for $20.

Funding for "Celebrating Alaska's Shorebirds" was provided by the National Forest Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which includes the Forest Service, and the Prince William Sound Oil Spill Recovery Institute.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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