The Big Year movie is now playing at theatres near you. This film is not just about birds; it is about birders. As such, it is the first film of its kind. It is also not an “Indie” production with no-name talent. The Big Year is a major Hollywood production starring Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin. The release of this type of film with this type of talent indicates that birders have finally arrived.
In the last decade, bird-themed films like Winged Migration, March of the Penguins and the Parrots of Telegraph Hill surprised the film industry with their popularity. These films demonstrated that there is a large market sector, or demographic, that cares about birds and natural history.
Based on a book by the same name, The Big Year is a true story about three birders who attempt to break the record for the most bird species tallied in one year in North America. The book is a fine read that melds quirky, obsessive characters with adventures in beautiful places and solid natural history. Given the comic cast of The Big Year, you can bet that they will poke fun at birders and birding.
Kidding aside, this film is designed for an audience that is far bigger than most realize:
¨ According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 48 million Americans consider themselves "birders.”
¨ 45,000 people in 211 countries use E-Bird to post their bird sightings
¨ Tens of thousands participate in Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count
¨ The purchase of optics, feeders, bird guides and other supplies has become a major industry
¨ Birding books have been best sellers, including The Big Year by Mark Obmascik and the Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley
Now that birding has been placed in the limelight and has become more of a mainstream activity, perhaps you would like to get involved. Go see the movie, have a good laugh, and then go birding. I can take you on an entry level trip if you would like to try it.