Every Year on January 1st...
...a quirky crowd of adventurers storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year – a grand, grueling expensive, and occasionally vicious, “extreme” 365-day marathon of birdwatching. A birding classic, The Big Year is the true story that became the 2011 fictionalized film starring Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson.
For three men in particular, 1998 would be a whirlwind, a winner-takes-nothing battle for a new North American birding record. In frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities that can make or break their lead, the birders race each other from Del Rio, Texas in search of the rufous-capped warbler, to Gibsons, British Columbia, on a quest for Xantus’s hummingbird, to Cape May, New Jersey, seeking the offshore great skua. Bouncing from coast to coast on their potholed road to glory, they brave broiling deserts, roiling oceans, bug-infested swamps, a charge by a disgruntled mountain lion, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man.
The unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to an unthinkable record – finding and identifying an extraordinary 745 different species by official year-end count.