I watched the Netflix series Bloodline last week and enjoyed it, for the most part. Very well acted by a stellar cast that includes Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, and Ben Mendelsohn doing the creepy menace thing he perfected in Animal Kingdom. And, set and filmed in the Florida Keys, it's got atmosphere to spare, much like another recent noir, season 1 of True Detective.
But I said I liked it "for the most part." The part I didn't like, the part that ruined it for me the way it always ruins things for people like us, is the constant stream of incorrect bird songs in the soundtrack.
Look, I've said it again and again: because this stuff really isn't that hard to get right it pisses me off when it isn't, and it makes me wonder about all the other stuff the show is probably getting wrong. It would take 15 minutes on eBird and Xeno-Canto to get a full suite of geographically and seasonally correct bird sounds, but instead we're left to listen to a bunch of garbage.
It started with promise. Set primarily at a family-run inn on Islamorada, there are a lot of shots of broody people at night doing broody and/or suspicious things. In some of those early night scenes I started hearing a lot of Common Nighthawk peents in the background, including this one:
(I'm not going to do audio or clips or anything that's probably illegal, OK? Just use your imagination to put a bunch of CONI peents behind broody Kyle here.)
Nighthawks, nice! Not quite the extra-credit that I would have given a Key-appropriate Antillean Nighthawk, but a plausible species nonetheless.
But the quality of the night-scene birds started getting screwy. There were a few instances of Northern Parula song in a few of the daylight scenes - totally appropriate - but look at the tender scene below and imagine a Northern Parula just belting out a song right in the middle of it.
I suppose that having the old man yell, "Holy shit did you hear that Parula just now? Why is it singing in the middle of the night?" would ruin some of the emotional gravitas of the scene, but if it were me I don't know that I could resist.
It just got worse from there. Florida inappropriate Black-capped Chickadees were singing all day and night. Broad-winged Hawks were singing for what is likely the first breeding pair in the Keys. It was all very distracting.
For much of the season these avian errors were limited to the soundtrack, but I was lost completely in Episode 10 when the show tried to work birds into the script. I won't spoil anything, but the character below at one point tries to distract some boat passengers by looking up and saying something like: "Oh that's a good omen, a flock of ..." A flock of what, would you guess? Pelicans? Royal Terns? A flock of flamingoes? That's both lucky and Florida appropriate! Nope, he says "A flock of...
... Razorbills." Razorbills. The seafaring alcid that breeds in the North Atlantic. This dude just casually looks up, no-binocular IDs a flying (!) flock (!) of razorbills and is like "oh that's lucky." You god damn bet that's lucky, tubs, that's like a second state record! Get a pic! It'd be like me looking up and seeing a flock of tropicbirds flying over DC and being like "oh, cool, nice."
Now, technically, this isn't an error. This guy's not a birder, and neither are the people he's trying to distract, so he could have said anything just to get them to look up. I get it, but Razorbills? Why such a specific and specifically insane bird? Is this a reference to the Razorbill invasion of 2011? No, I don't think so. It's just dumb. EDIT 10/9 So, maybe I'm the dumb one. The Razorbill invasion of Florida and the Gulf was the winter of 2012/13, not 2011. The show was announced in Oct. 2013, and presumably written before that...right during the time of the Razorbill invasion. I give kudos to at least connecting the reference to an actual event, though it's still presented incorrectly in terms of tone.
Being the nice guy that I am I offered to help the show's second season get things right. I haven't heard anything back yet, and I'm not holding my breath.