Two bird enthusiasts try to defeat the cocky, cutthroat world record holder in a year-long bird-spotting competition.
A Big Year is seeing or hearing as many different species of birds as possible in a calendar year. It is possibly the most intense event birding has to offer.
Three men pursue the Birder of the Year title: Kenny Bostick, former birding record holder with 732 in a previous big year, newly retired Stu Preissler, and Brad Harris, a computer programmer with the unique ability to recognize any species of bird by its sound alone.
Life gets complicated as the year drags on. Bostick’s wife wants a baby, a feat that proves too difficult for the absentee bird obsessed roofing contractor. Stu’s firm needs him for sensitive negotiations during a merger with thousands of jobs on the line. Brad, divorced and underemployed at 36, has an encouraging mom and a disapproving dad to juggle.
They criss-cross the U.S. (including a trip to Alaska’s westernmost island), following migration patterns, and storms that force birds to ground. The year-long journey’s financial and family costs bog them down, while momentary glimpses of birds are the only prize in this bird-eat-bird competition. Each birder must balance the obsession within their own life struggles, often making great sacrifices in pursuit of the title: Birder of the Year.