I don’t think this is anything new but I’ll say it: Birds are rarely depicted accurately in movies.


I’m not even talking about the usual, “oh that eagle/vulture/every hawk sounds like a Red-tailed Hawk,” I’m talking about watching a film set in Minnesota and hearing a Tawny Owl, watching something set in Africa or South American and hearing a Kookaburra or watching a bunch of cowboys around a fire in the desert and hearing the lonely wail of a Common Loon.

But sometimes a movie surprises us. I’m kind of late to the Hobbit movie party and I’m only politely attending at that. I like the sci fi/fantasy genre but the Hobbit has never tripped my trigger. I couldn’t get into it as a book or cartoon as a kid. I think it’s a combination of already having gone through Lord of the Rings and getting tired of books being male centric, but that’s a different topic for a different day. But my sci fi loving husband insist I give it a go on Netflix so here I am typing a blog entry for 10,000 Birding wondering how on earth I’ll survive two more movies of this epic snail.

However, one thing caught my attention.

Wizard Radagast is running through the woods and a bird comes up to him:

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Hey-o, that’s an American Robin flying up to our boy.  Not only that–its sound effect as he chirped was total American Robin! Since these things are filmed in New Zealand, I would have guessed they’d use a New Zealand bird but hey, the fact that they used the state bird of Wisconsin and even dubbed it over with the actual call totally impressed me. My husband took me to task for not getting mad that it’s not a New Zealand bird, but I said, “Hey, it’s Middle Earth, anything goes species-wise there.”

P.S. The Hobbit ruins the bird goodwill by having the Giant Eagles at the end scream like Red-tailed Hawks. Come on, Peter Jackson, Golden Eagles or Wedge-tailed Eagles don’t sound that bad do they? Sigh.

How about you, what birds have been surprisingly accurate in movies?

Written by Birdchick
Sharon Stiteler was given a Peterson Field Guide to Birds when she was seven years old and snapped. She loves birds - it’s just the way she’s wired. Since 1997, she has made it her goal to get paid to go birding. She runs the popular birding blog, Birdchick.com, and has been in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on NBC Nightly News as well as making regular appearances on Twin Cities’ TV and radio stations. She’s a professional speaker and story-teller and her writing can be found in several publications including WildBird Magazine, Outdoor News, and Birding Business. She wrote the books 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know, Disapproving Rabbits and City Birds/Country Birds. When she’s not digiscoping, tweeting or banding birds, she’s a part-time park ranger and award-winning beekeeper.