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Birders prepare for boost in hobby thanks to Hollywood

It seems kind of crazy to think just how excited birders are about a movie that’s coming out later this month, but the excitement is palpable.

Birders across the nation, at symposiums and meetings, are talking about the upcoming film “The Big Year,” which is based on a popular book of the same name.

So, why are bird enthusiasts excited about this movie? To start, the plot follows a group of obsessed birdwatchers on a competition to see who can spy the most species in North America. By itself, this premise seems ripe with intrigue and comedy, but the all-star cast of Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson make it even more appealing.

It’s likely that a general audience is going to watch this movie, which shows the competitive side of a hobby people usually associate with standing still looking through binoculars for the glimpse of a bird. By showing most people who know nothing about birding the journey, competition and education of side of the hobby.

That’s why birders are expecting a boost of interest in the birding because the movie brings mainstream attention to the hobby. Here’s what writer and birder Jeff Reiter said about it:

This could be the biggest thing in the birding world since the announced rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker. I’m speaking of “The Big Year,” an upcoming movie based on a true story that is sure to capture the attention of birders and nonbirders alike.

Someone associated with the movie already said that workers of the film have bought field guides and binoculars to take up birding.

Greg Miller, a real birder who one of the characters in “The Big Year” is based on, is thoroughly excited about the prospect of millions of people watching his story about birding and also expects an uptick in interest.

In fact, Miller calculated a purely hypothetical number of 176,426 possible new birders thanks to the movie.

One of the biggest hurdles of birding has always been people’s perception that it’s only for older people and it’s boring. Hopefully, this movie destroys that perception and leads to an influx of learners.

What do you think? Will it make a difference in the birding community? Here’s a trailer of the movie.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

1 Comment

  1. I’m hoping it gives birding a huge boost. We need Americans to get back outside for every kind of good reason – health, environmental appreciation, ecological awareness, Vitamin D, stress relief and spiritual well-being! And I’d really like that renewed interest to spill over into my humorous Bob White Birder Murder Mystery series which likewise addresses a lot of those same things…not the Vitamin D so much, maybe…

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