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Birders: The Central Park Effect (DVD Review)

29 Jan, 2013 By: Ashley Ratcliff



Music Box
Documentary
$19.95 DVD
Not rated.

New York’s Central Park may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of nature, but it actually is home to 200 species of birds, including those making stops along their migratory treks.

Birders: The Central Park Effect shows the various species that can be found in the 843-acre landmark year-round, as well as the avid explorers who are thrilled by seeing them in their habitat, no matter the season.

Birders are a quirky breed of people indeed, with their necks craned skyward and binoculars in hand, shouting out the most ridiculous-sounding species names imaginable: Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, Chuck-will’s-widow and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, among others. True aficionados will want to stick around till the end of the credits for a complete list of species seen in the documentary.

The diverse birders in the film are quick to rattle off the myriad reasons they can’t get enough of observing these avian creatures: the birds’ beauty, the joy of being outdoors, the excitement of identifying species and more.

However, the person likely to steal your heart is renowned birder Starr Saphir, who, despite battling breast cancer, makes it out to Central Park several times a week to see the creatures. Birding is a childhood passion for Saphir that blossomed into her livelihood, as she conducts bird walks at the park during the warmer months.

Without being overly dramatic, the film makes the point that the numbers of common bird species are declining, and are doing so more rapidly than we would like to believe. The Central Park Effect is equal parts engaging and educational, and can garner the interest of even the most unadventurous viewer.


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