Sunday, May 26, 2019

Birds of North America -- DEBATE!

We filmed more than just the one episode when Jason and Jeffrey Ward were in town. Director Rob Meyer also made Jason and I face off for a debate on birding's hottest topics!

What do we do about cats?

What insults can we hurl at the Mandarin Duck?

What should we do about rare owl sightings?


Monday, May 20, 2019

Birds of North America -- Christmas Bird Count

I'm honored and thrilled to be included in a new episode of Jason Ward's Birds of North America web series on! Jason, his brother Jeffrey, artist and icon Rosemary Mosco, and A Birder's Guide to Everything director Rob Meyer came up to Maine this past December to do some filming with me and Maine Audubon. 

This episode captures our day in Maine Audubon's Scarborough Marsh Sanctuary for the Christmas Bird Count. We all had a really great time walking Eastern Trail, skating on the thick ice, and narrowly avoiding a guy with a shotgun. The episode came out so wonderfully, I'm pleased to share it with you.

I think I'll be in another upcoming episode, so stay tuned. Watch all the other episodes here

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Maine Voices Live -- June 4

For anyone in the southern Maine area who wants to come watch me and my Maine Audubon pal Doug Hitchcox talk about birding and birds and Maine and youth and travel and controversy and vagrants and whatever else we can come up with, please join us in Portland on June 4 for Maine Voices Live.

Thanks in large part to the interest of reporter Deirdre Fleming, the Portland Press Herald provides a ton of great content about birds in Maine. She's written about the state bird story I mucked up, covered the Great Black Hawk and lots of other vagrants (I'm trying to get them to stop using the "birders flock" headline cliche), and other cool bird stories that don't typically make major newspapers.

And now she's going to interview Doug and me about all this stuff, and more, on stage in front of a live audience. Buy your tickets and come join us!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Birding Game of Thrones

Wanted to make sure you all saw my recent post on birds seen and heard (mostly heard) in Game of Thrones. It was a lot of fun to write, especially because I was able to connect with the show's Supervising Sound Editor, Tim Kimmel.

As a cursed soul who spends more time than maybe anyone else thinking and getting upset over birds singing in the background of TV and movies (see Birds at Large), hearing from Kimmel about his process on the show was a revelation. 

A lot more effort and thinking goes into the background birds in Game of Thrones than it may seem. With so few people paying attention to those noises, it was easy for me to think that their inclusion and selection was a real afterthought for the production team. It certainly seems that way for other show and movies. Game of Thrones has always been different -- even though it's set in a fantasy world the birds are pretty good fits for the scenes: night birds singing at night, prairie birds singing in prairie habitat etc. 

Those things don't happen by accident, of course. Kimmel told me that he sits down with the show's producers and thinks about the setting and mood of a scene, and then finds background noise to match or enhance it. He'll do research on what birds should be where. When there isn't a noise that the producers feel fits, Kimmel will sometimes digitally alter sounds to create new bird songs. (That bit was amazing to me, and made be feel better about all the bird songs I couldn't recognize!) 

I enjoyed writing this piece, and have of course enjoyed watching Game of Thrones. It's set to end this weekend, but hopefully Tim Kimmel will move on to grace other productions with his birds!

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