Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:16 pm
Location: Bay Area, California
|This link contains content from a 2002 Washington Post article.
> TV Golf, Botching the Birdies
> The Buick Open golf tournament was in Michigan, so
> why was the silvery song
> of a canyon wren--a bird never seen east of
> Texas--heard on the TV
> Later last month, during a broadcast of the PGA
> Championship in Kentucky,
> birders picked up the thin whistle of a
> white-throated sparrow, not a bird
> of summer in the South. Last weekend, that sparrow
> called again in a place
> it does not belong--Ohio, during the NEC
> E-mails flew, between friends and on birding chat
> lists. Did you hear what I
> heard? Was it possible that CBS, which broadcast
> those tournaments, was
> dubbing in taped bird calls for viewers at home?
> Well, yes.
> "They have used a [taped] cartridge at one time or
> another," said Leslie Ann
> Wade, vice president of communications for CBS
> Sports. Producers try to use
> local bird sounds--even putting out a dish of
> birdseed next to a microphone
> at tournament sites--but cannot always get "ambient
> sound," and therefore
> turn to tapes, she said.
> (Spokesmen for!
> ABC and NBC deny their networks use taped calls or
> even bird mikes, although
> some viewers say they heard some out-of-place birds
> during the ABC
> prime-time broadcast on Monday from California
> featuring Tiger Woods and
> Sergio Garcia.)
> It is hard to know what to think about this. Some
> birders are thrilled that
> networks want to broadcast any bird sounds--and so
> what if they are
> misplaced? Everyone knows that TV dresses up the
> real world. Others, already
> down on golf courses because their manicured lawns
> are not bird-friendly,
> are more ambivalent. A few, though, are ticked off.
> "It's deceitful and overkill--just how perfect do
> they want us to think it
> is out there?" Gaithersburg birder John Malcolm
> groused. "Why not dub in
> harp music and rainbows for certain crucial holes?"
> "Besides," he added, "it messes up our harmless
> little hobby"--keeping lists
> of birds heard during golf tournaments.
> Yes, lists. Birders are fanatic list-keepers. Lists
> are a way of pinning
> down a fleeting,!
> sensory experience. They are a means of collecting
> birds, just as some
> people collect stamps or antiques, but without
> bringing them home. For some,
> they offer a vehicle to compete with other
> A list of the types of lists birders keep would fill
> this newspaper, but
> here are a few: Birds in their yards. Birds in
> parking lots. Birds on
> telephone poles, outside the office window, on the
> commute to work.
> Birds in commercials or movie soundtracks are a
> special favorite because
> they are so often wrong for the time or place.
> Birders know, for example,
> that the movie "The Last of the Mohicans," set in
> New York, was made in
> North Carolina because they can identify the calls.
> It was like seeing palm
> trees at the North Pole.
> It is a special thrill to spot a mistake--a "kind of
> one-upmanship," in the words of veteran Bethesda
> birder Lola Oberman. It
> shows they know their stuff. And these days, with
> good quality bird-song
> tapes so widely available, the fashion is t!
> o bird by ear, not just by sight.
> YuLee Larner, a past president of the Virginia
> Society of Ornithology who
> lives in Staunton, became convinced something odd
> was going on when she
> noticed the sparrows at recent golf tournaments sang
> "the same thing over
> and over and over again."
> Birds just don't do that. They vary their song.
> Besides, she pointed out,
> sparrows do not sing much in summer, after the
> springtime competition for
> territory and mates.
> "It just seems funny to me," she said. "They try to
> make things sound
> natural, but a little bit of research would tell
> producers where birds would
> be. They probably didn't think people were paying
> any attention."
> North Carolina birder Patricia Moore, who regularly
> leads bird walks, said
> she would rather hear no bird songs during golf
> tournaments than hear the
> incorrect ones.
> "A wrong bird song would be the same as a
> misidentification of a Beethoven
> symphony," she said. "It would rub a musician the
> wrong way to have
> something in his music misidentified."
_________________Ah, but I was so much older then.
I'm younger than that now
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