Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
The movie "The Big Year" opens here Friday. It's a movie about extreme birding. The Big Year is an individual effort to see as many species of birds as possible in a calendar year, usually in North America. The movie follows three men who made this effort in the same year. This actually happened, and a book (same title as the movie) was written about it. The movie more or less follows the book, with the usual liberties taken when translating actual event to a feature film. The movie is about people birding rather than about birds. I was pessimistic when I learned of the movie, assuming it would be a joke not on but about birders. After watching preview clips and reading the comments of other birders, I'm optimistic now, and certainly will be in the audience Friday. I'll go to be entertained. I'm not expecting a documentary.
One of the characters in the movie is based on a New Jersey resident named Sandy Komito. He was one of the three men involved in the Big Year on which the movie is based. You can find a set of audio interviews with him at
If for some reason that doesn't work go to www.nabirding.com. The interviews are easy to find. They're a good introduction to this seldom-seen part of the birding world, and to the movie. Listen to Sandy before you go to the theater. There also are interviews with one of the other Big Year guys, Greg Miller, and with a man who contributed video of some of the birds seen in the movie.
If you would like to share the movie experience with other birders, Betsy Beneke, public affairs director at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, is organizing an event at the Elk River theater Friday for the 1 p.m. showing of the movie. Arrive at 12:45, she says, and dress like a birder. She's offering a prize for the best birding "outfit."
Jude and I will watch the movie Friday afternoon at the Icon theaters in St. Louis Park. You will not recognize us as birders.
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