SIZZLE REEL

THE WORLD

There are hobbies, there are obsessions, and then... there are Birdwatchers.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 45 million Americans call themselves Birdwatchers. They hail from every ethnicity, every age group, every socioeconomic level and every region in the country. And every year they spend an estimated $41 Billion — that’s Billion, with a B — on trips and equipment.

For the most hardcore Birdwatchers it’s not just about communing with nature, it’s about the competition. They take part in events (like the Big Day and Big Year ), wherein they must find the most species in a specific region during an allotted window of time.

THE SHOW

THE BIG MONTH is the Superbowl of Birdwatching, a crazy, globetrotting adventure like The Amazing Race – but with no preset destinations. Five teams of two birders have 30 days and the entire world to rack up sightings, all while completing a series of challenges, each designed to test their knowledge, cunning, ability to plan... and just plain luck. It's a birdwatcher's dream, and to sweeten the pot, at the end of the month, the team with the biggest bird count takes home a $100,000 prize.

However, there are plenty of challenges along the way, beginning with pairing each birder with a stranger. They come in every stripe, and each of them has their own particular way of doing things. They have to work together if they want to win.

CAST

A FIELD GUIDE TO TYPES OF BIRDERS

The most interesting species we will see in THE BIG MONTH are the birdwatchers themselves. Here’s a guide to some of the archetypes we’ll be looking to cast.

THE camo-covered
gearmonger

This birder attempts to conceal its appearance, but is given away by several 2 to 3 foot lenses protruding from its midsection. Males usually present with a dozen or more pockets, filled with batteries and lens cleaner.

THE HEAVy-FOOTED
NOOBIE

Often heard before seen, this birder may have a nice camera but never has the right footwear. Known for not knowing anything and asking other birders for the names of species. Often gets the best shot of the day, based on beginner's luck.

THE BICKERING
FUSSBUDGET

While it comes in a variety of sizes and colors, the Fussbudget is known for being extremely passive-aggressive, condescending, and derisive of other birders. Known for asking for Instagram accounts, then leaving shitty, self-serving comments.

THE CRUSADING
KNIGHT-STALKER

Always spotted in pairs, like a knight and his valet. Bird Knights carry extremely long lenses like a lance, while their second carries everything else like a pack mule. No item is left behind: tent blinds, extra cameras, batteries, rain gear, and reference manuals.

THE CHATTERING
CLAVEN

Every bird, every environment, every detail is a jumping-off point for the Chattering Claven to rattle off facts and stories that have only tangential ties to what's actually happening in nature at that moment. Often seen buzzing around a Noobie.

THE MISSED-IT
AWWBIRDER

Always the first to arrive at a birding spot, the Awwbirder informs every newcomer of the amazing things they missed because they were late, even if those events did not happen. If challenged by another Awwbirder, will often resort to telling tales of what happened yesterday.

challenges

FUN TWISTS ON CLASSIC BIRDING COMPETITIONS

There are standing rules to THE BIG MONTH. Teams can not interfere with each other. Flushing out birds, using baits or bird calls, and any other tricks that non-purists employ are strictly forbidden. And you must identify your own birds – get the ID wrong and you are heavily penalized. The challenges, while tough, are designed to fulfill any avid birder's fantasies. Here are a few examples:

the one-acre challenge

The teams are limited to spending 48 hours on 1 acre of land to capture as many species as possible. But they get to pick any single acre, anywhere in the world. Like Cape May, New Jersey, where a narrow migratory path has one of the biggest concentrations of bird species in the world for just a few weeks a year. Or the outskirts of Mumbai, where hundreds of species can be seen on a daily basis.

Raptors on
the hunt

Anybody can take a picture of raptors (hawks, eagles, falcons etc), they're usually circling somewhere overhead. But the real action is when they hunt. Teams must pick a spot to capture as many different species of raptors hunting, catching, and devouring their prey. Raptors are the military force of the bird world, and we want to see military action. Location is KEY.

SHOOT
carefully

One of the latest advantages of birding these days is that you can shoot in "Burst Mode" – hold the shutter button down, take 150 shots, and pick the best shot later based on tiny nuances. We take away that advantage, along with teams' 250 gigabyte cards, and give them just enough storage to take 48 photos in 48 hours, and like the old days on film, you have to keep all the shots you take!

ODD BIRD out

Wind, weather, and fires are just a few different environmental factors that can send birds way off course, until they find themselves in strange lands which leads to rare sightings.. For this challenge, our teams must pick a location and spot as many alien species as they can in 48 hours.

bird fight! 

There are many reasons birds want a piece of each other: territory, dominance, mating rivalry, or they just plain want another bird's food. And the fights are spectacular. Teams must put themselves in the right place and time to catch as many battles as possible in 48 hours.

dive right in

Most of the birders we cast will have plenty of experience shooting from land, but many birds do most of their hunting underwater. Teams must suit up and go where the Cormorants, Bufflehead, Penguins, Boobies, and hundreds of other species, hunt by "flying" underwater.

Experts

Like Forged in Fire, THE BIG MONTH, is set in a world that can seem foreign to outsiders. So, to help maximize uninitiated viewers' understanding of both the birds and the birders, the show features a cast of fun and funny experts, whose clever commentary helps explain not only the birds but why so many people are fascinated by them. There are also revolving regional experts – who better to explain the Indonesian Bird of Paradise than an Indonesian bird expert?

THE HANGING JUDGE

Fussy. Angry. And always right... in their opinion. If you don't know if it's a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Juvenile Cooper's Hawk... don't embarrass yourself.

THE GUSHER

They love birds. And they love that YOU love birds. Okay, you took the time to identify a bird and got it wrong... that doesn't mean it HAS to count against you.

THE TIEBREAKER

Part of being a judge is making judgement calls. We've all tried to make a sighting into something rare and unique. This judge hears you out... and breaks the tie.

THE BIG MONTH.
A bird in the hand is worth 100 Grand!