op in New York City's Central Park - and they don't go unnoticed. The revealing documentary BIRDERS: THE CENTRAL PARK EFFECT chronicles one year in the life of the extraordinary array of wild birds that grace Manhattan's celebrated patch of green, and the equally colorful New Yorkers who schedule their lives around the rhythms of migration, when it debuts tonight, JULY 16 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. The debut of the Oscar(R)-nominated documentary short "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom," which shows how nature can be a rejuvenating as well as destructive force, follows at 10:00 p.m.
Other HBO playdates: July 19 (5:00 p.m.), 21 (10:00 a.m., 5:20 a.m.), 24 (11:30 a.m., midnight) and 29 (2:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: July 18 (8:00 p.m.), 22 (5:25 a.m.) and 26 (8:00 a.m.)
HBO Documentary Films presents another weekly series this summer, debuting provocative new specials every Monday through July 30. Other July films include: "Hard Times: Lost on Long Island" (July 9); "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" (July 16); "Vito" (July 23); and "About Face: Supermodels Then and Now" (July 30).
Devoting equal time and affection to birds and birders, first-time filmmaker Jeffrey Kimball explores a distinctly New York phenomenon, telling a story of humanity, nature and the precarious balance between the two. BIRDERS: THE CENTRAL PARK EFFECT captures an astonishing number of species - from hummingbirds and herons to owls and hawks - with stunning HD photography that does justice to the birds' amazingly diverse patterns, hues and personalities. The film also celebrates devoted NYC birders who find a paradise within the urban chaos, among them author Jonathan Franzen and Starr Saphir, the "matriarch" of Central Park birdwatching.
It's springtime in New York City, and the city's biggest park is hosting a community of several hundred birders. As veteran birder Lloyd Spitalnik notes, "If you get tired of looking at The Common birds, you might as well just pack it in." Chris Cooper says his friends don't see him from April 15 through Memorial Day; if they question his annual obsession, he counters by rattling off his "seven pleasures of birding." Anya, a 15-year-old birder, wants to protect birds because they are "so alive, active, varied and beautiful."
As the birders describe their passion, the pleasure they derive from the birds is both contagious and poignant. To a birder, finding a feathered friend is like a celebrity sighting. Scientists call the concentration of birds funneling into this oasis of nature amid a sea of steel and cement the Central Park Effect.