Amy
ABOUT ME - My name is Amy and I'm a birder living in central Florida. On this blog I post book and birding product reviews as well as birder gift ideas and announcements related to my birder gift shop on this site. I also have a personal birding blog called Powered By Birds.

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Archive: January, 2012

Big Year DVD Giveaway Winner

Posted on January 31st, 2012 in Giveaway, Movie

Thank you to everyone who entered for a chance to win a copy of The Big Year on DVD!

I used a random name picker to select the winner. Congratulations to Ben S. on winning the DVD! Ben, I will contact you privately via email shortly.

For everyone else, remember that The Big Year is available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray today! Yay!

Big Year DVD Giveaway!

Posted on January 24th, 2012 in Contest, Giveaway, Products

The Big Year comes out on DVD and Blu-ray one week from today. I’m excited to be able to offer my readers the chance to win a copy of The Big Year on DVD! It’s super-easy to enter – just leave a comment below! The giveaway is open to anyone with a U.S. or Canada street address. Past blog contest winners are eligible. The winner will be picked via random drawing on Tuesday, January 31st; post your comment by 11:59PM on January 30th to be eligible for the drawing.

To help promote the release, Fox publicity came up with this cute personality quiz for birders. If you take the quiz, let me know which bird type you are. I’m a Bar-tailed Godwit. :)

Several other bird bloggers are giving away a copy of The Big Year on DVD. After leaving your comment below, check out these posts from other bird bloggers to increase your chances of winning!

Greg Miller Birding | Birding Is Fun | Nemesis Bird

The Big Year extended version review

Posted on January 24th, 2012 in Movie, Movie Review

The Big Year is coming to the home market on DVD and Blu-ray on January 31st. The Blu-ray includes an extended version of the movie, as well as some other extras not available on the DVD version.

In the extended version of The Big Year, the story is told not via Brad Harris but by the narrator of the intro in the theatrical version (John Cleese). Because of this, certain scenes are edited a bit differently, and the movie has a slightly different feel from what was shown in cinemas last fall. The relationship between Brad and Stu is still pivotal, but it has a less one-sided feel (an improvement). In the extended version we also learn just a bit more about Brad’s personal life, which may have been awkward if included in the narrated-by-Brad version of the story.

The narrator talks during many of the scenes that Brad narrates in the theatrical version of the film. In these scenes and in others, John Cleese’s narrator often uses bird analogies when speaking about the characters of The Big Year. Some of these are a bit cheesy, but for the most part they work. In a movie about birders, it makes sense to compare important moments in the lives of the main characters to the pivotal moments in the lives of birds.

Parts of the extended version are framed by scenes featuring a Ruby-throated Hummingbird; the female bird’s migration in particular transitions between certain parts of the movie in a very effective way. The bird is CGI and looks beautiful.

These small differences between the theatrical and extended versions of The Big Year actually make a big difference in the story; I loved what I saw in the cinema but I may have loved the extended version even more. If you enjoyed The Big Year in cinemas last fall, you’ll probably enjoy the extended version, too. And if you didn’t get a chance to see it (its run was quite short!), I suggest you give both versions a try. I give The Big Year extended version 5 Goldfinches out of 5.

Thank you to Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Think Jam for providing me with a screener copy of The Big Year for review.

Bird Tees @ Threadless

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 in Pop Culture, Products

Threadless has another great clearance sale going on right now with shirts as low as $9. As usual there are some cool bird ones among the dozens of sale tees. Here are some of my favorites.

Bird Brain ($9 on sale) is a detailed anatomical drawing hummingbird mashup. To see the design details, click through to the original submission, where the artist wrote this shirt makes a fantastic way to impress that pre-med / ornithology co-ed you’ve had your eye on all semester.

The Northern Black-capped Gumchewer is on sale for $9. I think this funny design of birds chewing bubble gum is my favorite shirt of this bunch. May have to buy this one before the sale ends!

Song Bird is also on sale for $9. The bird kind of looks like a Limpkin with short legs (and something wrong with its head). Click through to the original submission to read the artist’s cute description of this whimsical design. In part: Native lore credits the long necked bird with the origin of music.

The Incredible Hawk is available on sale shirts ($9) and hoodies ($24.50). The hoody has a neat shield design on the front pocket area with the full “angry bird” design on the back.

Field Study 01 ($9 on sale) is a really beautiful design with a couple of very unfortunate spelling errors. The silhouettes are accompanied by a key, and two of the bird names are misspelled. Bummer.

The Messenger is on sale for $9. Like many other Threadless designs, this one is available on other products like iPhone cases, prints, and laptop skins, too, at society6.

Owls Ask Too Many Questions ($9 on sale) is really popular, though its not my favorite. The girly style is nearly sold out (just one left as of this writing).

Bird Nests ($19 on sale) was part of a imaginary sports league challenge. The back of this shirt has a circular logo for the Fighting Bird’s Nests along with the slogan “Go Nesty Go!”

A few of the awesome owl shirts I mentioned in a previous post are still available in very limited quantities. Check them out: Owl Nebula | Mechanic-owl King | Night Grooves | Owltical Illusion.

The sale ends on January 25th at 10AM Central, but since quantities are limited these styles might sell out before the sale is over. If you see something you like, better not wait!

Info: Starved Rock Bald Eagle Watch 2012

Posted on January 15th, 2012 in Festivals & Events, Illinois, Illinois Audubon

The annual Bald Eagle Watch at Starved Rock State Park is coming up later this month. I am posting this as a public service to all of the visitors who land on my blog looking for updated information about this event. You can find the details on the Illinois Audubon Society site, or read on.

Bald Eagle Watch Weekend
2012 Dates: January 28-29

Location: Starved Rock Lodge and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center
Admission: Free

Events include live raptor programs by the World Bird Sanctuary and the Illinois Raptor Center. There will be other vendors and programs at the event, which takes places at the two different spots noted in the map below. The Illinois Waterway Visitor Center is north of the river; Starved Rock is to the south. See the IAS Bald Eagle Watch Brochure for other events and further details.


View Bald Eagle Watch in a larger map

I’m sad I can’t attend this wonderful event this year. If you go, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for young Bald Eagles sporting leg bands!

Save the date: The Big Year coming to DVD & Blu-ray

Posted on January 14th, 2012 in Movie

The Big Year will be coming out on DVD and Blu-ray in just a few weeks, on January 31st.

I really enjoyed the movie both times I managed to see it during its theatrical run, which was unfortunately quite short.

The first time was a midnight screening opening day where Arthur and I were the only attendees. Just three weeks later we caught it again, this time at a second-run cinema with a handful of other viewers.

I’m looking forward to seeing The Big Year again in the comfort of home in just a few weeks, and I’m especially looking forward to seeing the extended version and what extras the producers will be including with the release. Extras slated for the Blu-ray include a behind-the-scenes feature, 14 deleted scenes, and a gag reel.

The publicity department at Fox is gearing up for The Big Year release; here’s hoping that DVD and Blu-ray sales perform better than the initial box office run! If you’re gearing up for the upcoming home video release too, here’s a cute graphic Big Year / New Year’s Resolutions Checklist you can print out as a reminder. January 31st – save the date!


Click to enlarge, save, print

Upside down envy

Posted on January 10th, 2012 in Backyard Birds, Funny, Products

I was looking at bird houses an Amazon.com the other day when I ran across this Perky-Pet feeder. The Tufted Titmouse on the left side seems to be having trouble using the feeder.


Perky-Pet Metro 2-in-1 Bird Feeder

There are birds that feed while hanging or standing upside down. Take, for instance, the, uh, statue of a nuthatch on this feeder:


No No Bronze Original Bird Feeder

Then there are bird feeders designed so the patrons have to hang upside down on them, like this feeder for finches:


Birdscapes Upside Down Goldfinch Feeder

The unconventional titmouse gets around. I found him on a Birdscapes feeder, too. Maybe it wishes it was a goldfinch or a nuthatch.


Birdscapes Copper Wild Bird Feeder inset with Perky-Pet close-up

Book Review: Tales of a Low-Rent Birder

Posted on January 9th, 2012 in Book Review, Books

Tales of a Low-Rent Birder by Pete Dunne. First published 1986. As reviewed and pictured: softcover, 157 pages.

Pete Dunne’s Tales of a Low-Rent Birder is subtitled 19 Flight of Fancy by America’s Second-Best-Known Bird-watcher. The book’s forward comes from the best-known birder of the time, Roger Tory Peterson. Low-Rent Birder republishes 19 essays and articles which first appeared in birding newsletters and magazines from 1977 to 1985.

While I have thoroughly enjoyed other Dunne works, I found the 19 pieces in this book to be hit or miss, with more misses than hits. I love the poetic style he uses for factual essays, as in the wonderful “Overflight,” which recounts an epic day of shorebird surveying over Delaware Bay via small aircraft. I could feel the excitement in the plane when staggering numbers of birds were spotted on Moore’s Beach. Dunne also has a fantastic way of infusing humor into birding stories. I enjoyed “Birdathon ’83 — A Saab Story” — but then I’m a sucker for an exciting Big Day tale. Another enjoyable piece is “First-Year Bird,” which remarkably brings the reader in to the intimate world of a young and struggling Red-shouldered Hawk, without anthropomorphizing her at all.

Whether told with tongue in cheek or not, the non-fiction essays are by far the most enjoyable in the book. However, several of the fictionalized tales fell flat for me. There is “SVAT,” a fantastical story about the Species Verification Attack Team, a division of PABLUM, the Pure American Bird Listers Uber-Membership. At nearly 23 pages, its one of the longer stories in the book. With bad German accents and ridiculous character interactions, this was a struggle to read in its entirety. “The Legend of Jesse Mew” is another unsuccessful piece. Here we learn the story of a legendary Peregrine Falcon spotter, a man whose eyes are deformed, “the result of incalculable hours spent looking into the sun for towering Peregrines.” Another goofy fiction tale that I just didn’t enjoy at all.

So while I would gladly give a 5-finch rating to several stories, others barely warrant 1. Overall, then, I give Tales of a Low-Rent Birder 2.5 Goldfinches out of 5.