Tuesday, July 17, 2012

HBO broadcasts documentary about birding in NYC's Central Park

Monday, July 16, HBO aired a one-hour documentary “Birders: The Central Park Effect”, by Jeffrey Kimball.

Because New York City’s (that is, Manhattan’s) Central Park is a large natural oasis in a huge “concrete jungle” spanning four states, a relatively large population of birds pass through on migration and also liv there.  The documentary featured a huge population of colorful male birds normally seen in bird textbooks but rarely seen in practice.  These included a large number or warblers, and a Baltimore Oriole.

It’s rather interesting that in nature, it’s the male that is often conspicuous for color and physical beauty.  This is most notable with birds, but happens with some other social animals (like lions).  The showering of the female with the mystique of beauty is a particularly human invention (parodied or overcome in the male gay community, perhaps).  Of course, with “eusocial” insects the opposite prevails: the female is often larger, and the queen rules the world, literally.

The film, like many nature documentaries (such as those from the Disney era of the 50s) is divided into seasons, starting in spring. Despite this past mild winter, we got to see Central Park under snow.  

The most visible human personality was probably Starr Saphir, who has led birding walks all year (particularly in fall in spring) for decades, for a small charge. 

The HBO link is here

Note: The short documentary that followed, "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" is reviewed on the "Films on Major Challenges to Freedom" blog Monday. 

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