TheNew cover for The Big Year - Movie-tie-in coverre’s something about getting older. Life slows down a bit and the pursuits of pleasurable hobbies becomes a way of life. We’ve experiences that phenomenon here in our life as well. Gone are the crazy schedules and the noisy household and it’s replaced with long stretches of time to think and reflect.

One of the things we’ve discovered we both have a passion for is birdwatching. This has lent itself to our yard being filled with feeders of every kind. Once we mastered attracting the allusive Humming Birds, we moved on to the Steller’s Jay because we love their amazing color. We’ve not ventured any further than our back porch, yet, but the thought of taking a trip somewhere in the US to look at birds other than what we have here is enticing. But would we ever enter the world of competitive birdwatching? Probably not, but it was sure fun reading about it.

T. R. Reid Washington Post’s Rocky Mountain Bureau Chief, regular commentator on National Public Radio‘s Morning Edition, and author of Confucius Lives Next Door Here’s a rare species: a book on birdwatching that turns out to be charming, engrossing, and educational even for people who can’t tell a mudhen from a magpie. It was so much fun, I didn’t want the big year to end. When it did, there was only one thing to say: “Where’d I put those binoculars?”

The book, “The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession,” chronicles the journey of three fellows – a New Jersey roofing contractor, a corporate executive, and a software engineer- all out to one-up the other to record the record breaking number of of species seen in North America in a single year.  And like any competitive bunch, they go to some crazy extremes to try to win.  The journey is a hilarious look at people who have too much money to spend, too much time on their hands, and too much ego to let go and their transformation as human beings as the deal with the roadblock thrown in their way on their journey.  But that’s why it’s fun.

I’ve read the book and loved it and it’s too bad the movie made from the same title fizzled at the box office.  I think sometimes movies work too hard at going over the top and into the ridiculous.  I wish Hollywood would learn that when they make a movie from a popular book, it’s popular because it’s already good, there’s no need to Hollywood-ize it (ie., “Dumb and Dumber” it).  So skip the movie and read the book – it’s a great journey – fun and fanciful without being stupid.

My bird-loving husband will be finding the The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession book in his stocking on Christmas Morning along with a handheld GPS unit.  Maybe 2012 will be our Big Year….

Author Mark Obmascik Photo Credit: Merrill Schwerin

Author Mark Obmascik Photo Credit: Merrill Schwerin

Title:  The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession

Author:  Mark Obmascik


Every January 1, a quirky crowd storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year—a grand, expensive, and occasionally vicious 365-day marathon of birdwatching. For three men in particular, 1998 would become a grueling battle for a new North American birding record. Bouncing from coast to coast on frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities, they brave broiling deserts, bug-infested swamps, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man. This unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a record so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested. Here, prizewinning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling, fun narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to win the greatest— or maybe worst—birding contest of all time.

Imprint:  Free Press

Pub Date:  September 27, 2011

ARP:  $15

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4860-7

Format:  paperback, reissue, movie-tie-in-edition, E-book edition (isbn 978-1-4391-0745-4)

The Big Year was in theaters 10/14/11

The Big Year Official Movie Trailer:


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