Music Box Films // 2012 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // February 3rd, 2013
"Eventually, I tried taking my binoculars to Central Park, and discovered there was this hidden piece of nature right in the middle of the city." -- director Jeffrey Kimball
If you're into birds, the large city parks are the place to go, because that's where the migrant pintails and buffleheads can be found. Birders: The Central Park Effect follows avian visitors to the Big Apple -- and the people who follow those birds.
There are lots of people talking in Birders, but director Jeffrey Kimball tends to keep them moving, walking along green paths, while chirping and bird calls form the background music. That makes the documentary more visually interesting than most as it follows the birds and the birders through the seasons.
While there's a certain tranquility to the visuals, especially when gentle music is added, Birders reminds viewers that Central Park is man-made, not natural, and there's at least a sense of the passion that goes into thick daily logbooks of birds.
If you're new to birding, there are a few tips on aspects like spotting birds among the leaves. There's also a bonus video guide to Central Park birds, a selection of bird photos in the booklet, and a sample birding log that even a newbie birder is likely to fill up quickly. The disc also includes extended interviews with authors Jonathan Franzen and Jonathan Rosen, and Dr. John Fitzpatrick, who discusses the effects of cats on bird populations.
While Birders: The Central Park Effect concentrates on New York, the information on birds appears relevant all along the East Coast, and the tips and insights apply to urban birding in general. City birders will want to own a copy, while those just curious might prefer a rental.
Interestingly, Queen of the Sun, an upcoming doc on bees, is the trailer. The birds and bees someday might make a good double feature.
Not guilty. Go check out those buffleheads.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Music Box Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extended Interviews
* Bird Guide