Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik

This true story documents three American men who competed in 1998 to see the most different species of birds in one year. One of them managed to collect 745, which is amazing, considering that the area of the contest was restricted to Canada and the U.S.A. (minus Hawaii). Journalist Mark Obmascik profiles the men, including how they became interested in bird-watching and how they managed the time and money to chase rare birds.

I saw this white-crowned sparrow near Whitehorse.
I listened to an abridged audiobook (Random House; 6 hours), capably read by Oliver Wyman. It reminded me of another book about people and their obsessions, The Orchid Thief, although The Big Year is not as funny as Susan Orlean's book. A movie version, just released, is apparently more of a comedy; I read about it in Film Journal International online. My sweetie's father, Cliff, was a lifelong birder who kept meticulous records - he was in my thoughts as I listened to the escapades of these guys.

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