Category Archives: Pop Culture

Fooling Birders

Beware, internet surfers – today is April Fool’s Day. Birders are not immune to being played for fools, if these pranks from years past are any indication.

The exciting headline Extinct Carolina Parakeet Rediscovered in Honduras appeared on April 1, 2009. This one came complete with a news release from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which added authenticity to an unbelievable discovery. If you fell for this one, you were certainly not alone!

Last year Ted Floyd revealed a list of ABA Checklist Changes that had some birders just a bit freaked out. The list highlighted crazy splits, maddening lumps, and major, unprecedented changes to the ABA Area.

Also last year, blogger tai haku broke the story of ESPN’s entry into the competitive birding market: Email from ESPN: the “American Big Day Birding League.”

Bill of the Birds had a great prank last year, too, when he revealed a major change at BirdWatcher’s Digest: Our New Name!. The magazine was to be rebranded Wild Bird Watcher’s World (and Blooms).

By now, readers of 10,000 Birds must know they need to be on their toes on April Fool’s Day. Last year they got us with an unbelievable giveaway opportunity: Win a Free Trip to Thailand! In 2010 Corey revealed a shocking overseas birder conspiracy: Short-toed Treecreepers Do Not Exist. And in 2009 Corey reported seeing a Pileated Woodpecker in Queens, complete with photo documentation.

Google has been offering up pranks on April 1st for years. They featured birds in an early prank: Google’s PigeonRank was revealed on April 1, 2002. The search engine’s cruelty-free method of determining page rank uses trained pigeons to recognize objects regardless of spacial orientation. It’s all very complicated.

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Birding’s star turn

The film version of The Big Year is progressing, with filming to begin next month. Local birders even have a chance to be in the movie — there is a May 1st casting call for extras in Tofino, BC. I was an extra in a movie many years ago, and it was a lot of fun. I would LOVE to be able to be an extra in The Big Year! Producers are looking for “local men and women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities who are interested in working as paid Extras on the movie.” I wonder how many birders will show up for the casting call?

In other entertainment news, Los Angeles Audubon will be celebrating their 100th anniversary in May and as part of the festivities, birders can join several Star Trek cast members on a birding field trip. The Bald(ing) Eagles of Star Trek is one of several teams competing in a Birdathon over the first week of May. It’s a fun chance to go out birding with Armin Shimerman, Robert Picardo, Ethan Phillips and John Billingsley, and contribute to Los Angeles Audubon’s activities, too.

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New cast member for ‘The Big Year’

A film adaptation of Mark Obmascik’s The Big Year looks to be another step closer to production. In January news broke that the film would star Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Dustin Hoffman. Tonight reports are circulating that Steve Martin will take Dustin Hoffman’s place in the film. According to ABC News, filming is set to begin in May in Canada. David Frankel is still on to direct.

Although I do like Dustin Hoffman, I’m a big fan of Steve Martin, so I like this announcement. With this cast, there’s no doubt this will be a comedy. I just hope they don’t make birders look too goofy.

Humorous Pictures

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Lost Birds

I’ll admit I’m pretty addicted to Lost. I’ve seen all of the episodes as they first aired (or as close to as I could while living abroad), I’m enjoying this last season and my husband and I even started re-watching the first five seasons a month ago. There are a couple of teeny tiny mild spoilers ahead (for episodes of Lost that have already aired), so be warned.

While looking through the fanatically comprehensive Lostpedia a few weeks ago, I came across the article on Birds. We had just re-watched the first season episode “Special“, where Walt is reading about Australian birds, so I already kind of had birds & Lost on my mind.

But birds appear in almost every episode of Lost; during the Island scenes there are usually bird sounds in the background, most often peafowl but also loons or doves. The Common Peafowl is an introduced species in Hawaii (where Lost is filmed).

If you watch the show you know that the Island gets around, so hearing such diverse species is not far-fetched. While improbable bird song is unfortunately common in popular culture, the makers of Lost could actually use sounds from any species of bird and they would work within the storyline of the show.

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