Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Big Year Movie and Beginning Birding

I'm way too exhausted right now after spending all day celebrating my solar return and being on this planet 29 years, or maybe I'm just in a food coma. Anyway, the blog post I was going to write tonight isn't going to happen until tomorrow, because I can't focus. But to clue you in to tomorrow's exciting post, today I did some birthday birding and was rewarded with the best rush of migrants I have ever seen in my two years of birding. It looked like the trees were raining warblers in two main pockets! I even got a birthday life bird, and some birding with one of my absolute most favorite local birders...but more on that tomorrow...

I instead felt like joining in on the birding blog blowup (and on Facebook birding pages) about the trailer that just came out about the upcoming movie The Big Year. It will be a movie about three birding dudes who go on their Big Year, and yes it is based on the book (from what I've read it sounds like 'loosely' might be added in there). I'm excited because I love Jack Black, he's enough to get me to go see almost any movie to begin with. A movie that might be about birding is even better, even though Hollywood has a history of being kind of mean to us. But we'll see...

The discussions seem to be focused on what this movie will do for birding and the birding world. I find the conversations fascinating and the range of predictions fun. My prediction is that it probably won't do too much to birding besides making it a bit more visible to the general public, which is nearly always a good thing. It might get some young impressionable people into birding, and to me this is the most important effect and the most likely. The movie looks like there is a lot of action, and action appeals to youth, and some kids might think, "Hell yes, looking for birds looks exciting!"

There are two concerns with this. For one, based on the trailer, birding isn't nearly as 'exciting' as what happens in said trailer. I have not nearly faceplanted while skiing in an attempt to see a hawk. Birding is exciting in its own special way, however. It is more likely to appeal to the Pokemon crowd rather than the crowd that is into extreme sports and explosions (although, I DO like destruction and explosions myself).

The other concern is the timing of the movie. If it is going to appeal to new birders, it is not coming out during the prime time of year for them to begin. October 14th is the release date, in the heart of fall migration. I've been birding for about two years (or is it three?) and today even I still found fall migrants daunting and the sheer number, difficult to keep up with! Being familiar with the common species seems the best way to know your fall migrants. All of these variables present serious problems for the absolute beginner, and I fear they would turn off a birding newb right from the start. Of course, there could be those people who let the idea marinate in their minds before starting, and they would begin in winter. I've heard a lot of skilled birders say that learning birding in winter would suck or does suck, though I have never asked why, but I don't doubt for most people it would. I began birding in late winter and found the small amount of species and having mostly commons as a base for spring migration that year incredibly handy (and I studied Sibley all winter).

The only thing to do now is to wait and see, and should I run across any new birders, to encourage them and maybe even guide them along so that fall migration doesn't kill their interest dead.

1 comment:

suep said...

Happy Buuuuuuurthday to Yooooou!
from Sue