This series of four short films tells the story behind the creation of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, now threatened by the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The silent films depict the thriving trade in bird feathers — used in women’s hats at the turn of the last century — that led to the deaths of thousands of birds on Gulf Coast islands.
The films also portray President Theodore Roosevelt’s decision to end the trade off the southeast coast of Louisiana by creating a bird sanctuary on Breton Island, the Chandeleur Islands, and other nearby islands. The later films feature footage of Roosevelt on his 1915 visit to the national bird refuge he created. With Roosevelt are leading conservationists such as John M. Parker of the Louisiana Progressive Party and M.L. Alexander of the Louisiana Conservation Commission. The group is seen with snowy egrets, brown pelicans, blue herons, black skimmers, and laughing gulls, among other species.