Review: Birders

two men watching birds

The documentary, Birders, is a mere 40 minutes long. It never mentions politics, but it’s political nevertheless.

Directed by Otilia Portillo Padua, Birders takes place along the Rio Grande border between Texas and Mexico. For about half of the time, we are on the American side, the other half on the Mexican side.

Some of the Western hemisphere’s most beautiful birds, brilliantly photographed, can be seen in this brief documentary. It’s a celebration of birding.

Numerous birders are shown doing what birders do. They go where the birds are, which in this case is the migratory pathway of millions of birds. They watch, they count, they band, they catalog.

We get to see all sorts of bird from the tiniest to the largest raptors. The number of species of birds in the area along the Rio Grande is in the hundreds.

Birders understand what the birds need in terms of water, food, shelter, and safe habitat. They talk about how important it is that the habitat be continuous. There can be no interruptions in ground cover, food supply, or safe places to stop to rest.

Many people, both men and women, talk about birds, birding, and why they do what they do. Kids are there, too. Learning to identify birds, drawing them, counting them.

A poster for Birders

Nobody actually said it out loud, but a border wall is an interruption in habitat. Not just for ground animals but for birds as well. Both sides of a border fence are graded flat – essentially removing everything from around it. Destruction of habitat affects both land and air creatures. So a border fence isn’t a barrier to a bird, but it is still a problem.

We learn how much birding adds to the economy, how many jobs it provides. We see how meteorologists track the migration of birds on their radar. And we learn how it isn’t an American thing or a Mexican thing – it’s a bird thing.

This beautiful film about one of nature’s most important and essential creatures is definitely worth 40 minutes of your time.

A poster for Birders

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