13 March 2014

Missed Note

Seeing is believing, but in birding, so is hearing, and a new movie with bird-watching as a theme misses this point.

A Birder's Guide to Everything comes to theaters March 21 and revolves around some teenagers' search for the Labrador duck, an extinct species. Of course, the bird angle caught my attention. However, when I saw the trailer, I couldn't believe my ears. Check it out below:

The issue I had with the trailer involves the way the joke at the end presents a narrow idea of bird-watching. When Ben Kingsley's character says, "Absolutely anyone can be a birder--except for blind people I suppose," he's more than just wrong.

Despite the term "bird-watching," sound serves as probably the most reliable way of identifying birds. Often, birders only have sound to go on when noting the presence of species. With this in mind, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology requires its students to be able to identify birds just by sound. The fact is that a blind person with the ability to hear and knowledge of birdcalls would have an advantage over birders who simply relied on sight.

I don't want to discourage anyone from seeing the movie. Taken as a whole, it might turn out to be great, but the joke about blind people didn't strike me as funny or even accurate.

Seeing birds is certainly a great joy, but it's only part of the birding experience.

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