It is the Hebridean home of willow warblers, bullfinches and Manx shearwater that is a vital stop for populations of migrating sea and shore birds every year.

Now Eigg is celebrating its winged wildlife by staging the island’s first film festival with a bird-themed programme.

The festival programme of 10 feature films and documentaries will run over four days from Friday, April 17. 

A late-night screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and Nick Park’s animated comedy Chicken Run, as well as festival opener, award-winning 

The Messenger – which chronicles the mass depletion of songbirds across continents – will be shown between the Community Hall and CineMor77’s custom-built cinema yurt.

Nature expert Dr Kenny Taylor will give a talk on how seabirds’ global travels bring them back home to Eigg, while wildlife cameraman Jim Manthorpe and sound recordist Pete Smith will talk about, and show films, they have made for BBC, National Geographic, Channel 4 and others.

A birdwatching sail and walks series, sound recording workshop, a concert by singer-songwriter Jenny Sturgeon and a special Bird Bubble Bath DJ set from Eigg’s very own The Pictish Trail with CineMor77’s bird projections, close the Eigg Film Festival.

Norah Barnes, the island’s Scottish Wildlife Trust’s summer warden, has lived on the 5.5-mile by 3-mile island for 16 years and is leading the birdwatching walks around the island, armed with binoculars and telescopes.

She said: “We just really want to help people find out more about the birds. 
If you can see them up close it really makes a difference – it’s like a whole other world just on your doorstep.

“The wildlife around us is incredibly rich. Eigg has a large variety because 
we have lots of different habitats. 

“We’ve got all the shore birds and waders but then we’ve got moorland birds nesting and birds that use the lochs for nesting. Bigger birds use the cliffs and we also have forestry and woodland.”

In her role as summer warden, from April to August, Ms Barnes surveys the varieties of different wildlife on the island, including the birds, seals, butterflies and moths, as well as conservation work to preserve the environment.

The data collected allows the wardens to monitor the wildlife and is passed on to other nature agencies.

For Mr Taylor, former Highlands and Islands regional manager for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Eigg and its populations of people and birds are close to his heart.

He said: “Eigg is in a very fortunate position that, in quite a small package it’s got a whole range of different kinds of places that wildlife as a whole can use, and birds in particular.

“It’s got a very good mix of different birds, whether it’s hen harriers in the low ground, divers on the lochs, wee birds in the woodlands, and a whole range of other birds around the coast.”

As part of the Small Isles archipelago, Eigg hosts birds that travel the globe including the Manx shearwater seabird.

Once seen in huge numbers on the island’s cliffs, the population has greatly diminished over the years due to the historic practice of coastal communities eating chicks and indigenous vermin.

Mr Taylor said: “There were miles of shearwater colonies, which was incredible, but now they are down to maybe 150-plus pairs.

“Just over the sound is Rum, one of the biggest colonies in the world. 

“Eigg is part of a jigsaw in the Small Isles for seabirds as part of the whole community of birds.” 

Festival co-ordinator Lucy Conway said: “Adding a film festival to Eigg’s 
year-round calendar of events is very exciting. 

“Eigg has many iconic bird species and is a must-visit place for birdwatchers. Islanders love birds and understand visiting birdwatchers’ fascination. We’re really looking forward to enjoying four days sharing that passion through moving image, guided walks, talks, workshops and more.”

Robert Livingston, director of Regional Screen Scotland said: “Regional Screen Scotland has long-standing links with Eigg, through the visits of our Screen Machine mobile cinema.

“So we are delighted we have been able to support the very first Eigg Film Festival through our Local Film Festival Challenge Fund, made possible by funding from Creative Scotland.”

For more information or to buy tickets see: