Tag Archives: Dream Street Pictures

Preview: CBC’s Rare Bird Alert spies the birders in our midst

I recently moved from Toronto to a small town just outside of Gatineau, QC. Surrounded by forest, the big-city robins and cardinals I spotted in Southern Ontario have been swapped for blue jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, warblers and wild turkeys. I’ve downloaded the Merlin Bird ID app from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology onto my iPhone and am constantly searching for and documenting my findings. Needless to say, I was intrigued to watch a screener of Paul Riss’ documentary.

“Rare Bird Alert,” broadcast as part of CBC Docs POV this Saturday at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem, embarks on a one-man odyssey to meet other enthusiasts and take the pulse of birdwatching in North America. Turns out I’m not the only one on the birding bandwagon; birdwatching has become one of the fastest-growing pastimes on the continent. With the Latin names of 234 birds tattooed on his body, Hamilton-based Riss heads out to meet a few folks amid the growing flock.

In Canada, one in five people is an active birder who spends more than a quarter of the year watching birds. According to the Canadian Nature Survey, more than half of these are women; birdwatching has now become more popular than gardening.

Among those Riss meets are biologist Melissa Hafting, teenage birding phenomenon Toby Theriault, LBGTQ visual artist Christina Baal, and Philadelphia rocker and naturalist Tony Croasdale. All have their own reasons for birding, from passion to environmental activism.

There are also some sobering stats. The bird population is dropping worldwide, sounding the alarm on climate change.

“Rare Bird Alert” is fun and funky, with an engaging soundtrack and great graphics to accompany stunning shots of birds in varying backdrops. From a cattle egret in Hamilton’s Royal Botanical Gardens, a least bittern in Long Point and Anna’s hummingbird in Vancouver, the must-don’ts of birding (always confirm your sighting) and the definition behind “lifer” and “face-melter,” Riss’ project is for anyone interested in birding or the people who do it.

“Rare Bird Alert” airs as part of CBC Docs POV, Saturday at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of Dream Street Pictures.


Preview: Never Too Old proves you can do anything regardless of age

As they say, age is just a number. That saying is driven home in the excellent, inspiring “Never Too Old.”

Debuting Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC as part of CBC Docs POV, the project—from Dream Street Pictures, who made the equally excellent “Sickboy”—tells the story of 82-year-old Olive Bryanton who aims to earn her PhD, and documents the lives of women over 85 living in rural Canada.

Never one to relax, cameras capture Prince Edward Island native Olive as she works on her doctoral thesis at the University of Prince Edward Island. Her thesis? To prove most octogenarians and older defy the stereotype of taking it easy. Olive recruited 10 women aged 85-91, living in rural P.E.I., to document their busy lives and determine what support, if any, was there helping or hindering them in their lives.

“I’m sick and tired of hearing older adults are a burden on society, because they’re not,” Olive says. She, and the ladies we meet in “Never Too Old,” would run circles around me and a lot of younger folks I know. Like 91-year-old Theresa, a self-professed tomboy who delights in cutting the grass on her riding lawnmower and has “no notion of living anywhere else.” Or 88-year-old Anna, who is still active in her farming community; 87-year-old Ruby, the centre of her senior’s group; and 89-year-old Nan, who paints, revels in her “beautiful junk” and still feels sexual.

At the heart of Olive’s message is dropping the stigma that the older generation isn’t of value to society. As she points out, society’s focus is on those living in care facilities. But a mere 10 per cent of seniors are living in them. They’re active and they have something to say.

“I have never said to myself, ‘It’s too late to do something’ or ‘I’m too old to do something,'” Olive says. “That has never entered my mind.”

“Never Too Old” airs as part of CBC Docs POV on Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC and streams on CBC Gem.

Image courtesy of CBC.