Life List

Reviewed by Grant McCreary on March 9th, 2007.

cover of Life List

Studio: CustomFlix
Date: October, 2006
Number of Discs: 1
Video Format: 1.78:1 (non-anamorphic widescreen)
Length: 16 minutes
MSRP: $14.99

This documentary looks at birding through the eyes of two very different birders – John Higgins and Bob Dunlap. John is a retired birder in southeast Arizona, whereas Bob is a young birder from Minnesota.

The viewer gets to know these birders through interviews and by following along on birding trips. Both are obviously good birders, but their approach to birding differs greatly. The younger Bob is competitive, and likens birding to a sport. He keeps many separate lists and has completed a very respectable state big year. On the other hand, John views birding as more of a relaxing pastime. He does keep at least a life list, but adding more species to that list is not his main goal.

The documentary is enjoyable and completely engaging. It was fun to “tag along” with these birders. We follow John as he leads a field trip for (presumably) the Tucson Audubon Society looking for Five-striped Sparrows. This made me long to go back to Arizona, as I was not able to try for these birds in my one and only visit there. Even from this brief episode it is obvious that John is an excellent leader. In a very different (and much colder) part of the country, we follow Bob and some other birders as they seek some targets. They find a Varied Thrush that had been hanging out at some feeders, and later discover a Yellow-billed Loon! (However, it was unclear whether the loon had been previously discovered and reported to someone).

There is only one problem with this documentary: it is too short! The feature runs just under 16 minutes. I was fully engrossed in the film when all of a sudden the credits appeared. The deleted scenes menu claims over 40 hours of film was shot for this production. I would have loved to see more of it.

The DVD presents the film very nicely. The menus are easy to use, and the audio and video are fine. One word of warning: the disc is actually a DVD-R. Most DVD players should play this disc, but there could be some (mostly very early) players that might not be able to handle it. Check your player’s documentation before ordering if you are not sure that it can handle this media.

In terms of special features, there are five deleted scenes totaling just less than eight minutes. These are well worth watching. There is also a minute of footage of just birds. Most of the clips are taken from the main feature, although there are some that were not included in the documentary. The nice thing is that the birds are identified with labels here (they are not identified in the feature). The back of the case indicates that there is also a trailer on the disc, but I could not find it.

This program is fun and the DVD presents it well. However, $15 is way too much for 25 minutes of content. If you can find any other way of viewing this documentary, or if you don’t mind paying, it is very highly recommended.

Category: DVD

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