Birders hoping (in vain) The Big Year will make them cool

Birders are readying for the spotlight. The improbable big budget comedy about cutthroat birding, The Big Year opens today. Variety says Audubon is spending upwards of $100,000 on screenings and promos for the $41 million film. A real life birder one of the characters is based on blogs: “Holy Smokes!  I cannot believe this is really happening!” The influential site urges birders to go see it and predicts “the story will effectively change birding forever.”

Doubt it.

The Big Year, which stars Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black. Martin recently had a banjo album titled Rare Bird Alert, so he is totally pandering to the birding crowd.

The film is based on the book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession. Birders in the U.S. and Canada (or any other specific geographic area) take a year off from their human lives and compete to see how many species they can see in a year.

So, the birding here fits the cliche that birding is an anti-social, pedantic obsession. Let me make a bold prediction: the characters will realize their human relationships and perhaps nature itself are more important than the birding title.

There will be some rehabilitation of the birding hobby: birders in the movie, though sometimes misguided jerks, will be more young, fun and social than any we’ve seen in movies. Birds and nature play supporting roles. But I don’t think it’s going to make birding trendy any more than, say, Talladega Nights improved the image of Nascar.

Birding as a whole is already popular. About one in six Americans go birding. (It’s official numbers are 48 million, compared to 75 million for Nascar.) Did Nascar self-consciously fret about exploding popularity with their big movie? Nope.

I haven’t seen the movie and won’t be able to until it hits the Mommy and Me screenings, but I really want to. Just because it looks like fun.

raptorowl Where to SEE HAWKS, OWLS & OTHER RAPTORS
pelicanpuffinhummingbird Where to SEE WEIRD BIRDS (All the interesting birds: pelicans, puffins, prairie chickens, vultures, hummingbirds)



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