At the end of The Big Year (2011), Kenny Bostick does a big year and finishes with 755 bird species. After watching the film, I checked Wikipedia for Big year and reached the following information:

The Big Year of 1998 was the subject of a book of the same name by Mark Obmascik. In that year three birders, Sandy Komito, Al Levantin and Greg Miller, chased Komito's record of 721 birds. In the end Sandy Komito kept the record, listing 745 birds plus 3 submitted in 1998 and later accepted by state committees for a revised total of 748. The book was adapted for the 2011 20th Century Fox film The Big Year.

As of 2011, the world record is still 748, but in the movie it is 755. Why is the record in the movie not the same as the real one?

  • Why would it be? They apparently took care not take an unduly high number, but one to make for an outstanding achievement. May 11, 2012 at 8:53
  • because its a movie and even at the beginning it states "this is a true story only the facts have been changed"
    – user1657
    Jul 10, 2012 at 7:24

3 Answers 3


This page has a calculation on what one birder SHOULD have done, who ended on 748:

In late August instead of birding in Colorado for some code 1 birds that he could have picked up at other times of the year, he could have been in the Pribiloffs for a few days before going to Gambell. If he had he could have seen taiga and dark-sided flycatchers (code 4's), a jack snipe (code 4) and a long-toed stint (code 3). All of these birds could have been seen without missing out on other birds that John saw during the same time periods. If he had seen all these additional birds his 2011 total would have been 755.

I'd theorise then that they were basing it on the theoretical maximum then, ie the answer to the "if he'd done everything right, how many could he have seen?" question.


I always liked to think it had to do with Hank Aaron's true home run record. Obviously birding and baseball have no relation but I still always liked to think they made Bostick's record 755 which is what Aaron's home run total was. Maybe their sticking it to that cheater Barry Bonds. Of course, this is probably all ridiculous and completely false.


Okay -- this is just a guess, I do not really know what I'm talking about, but my guess is that they portrayed some of the characters in the movie as being less than ideal people. THUS, it is possible that someone could claim their character was defamed. SO, to give themselves legal wiggle room " ... characters, names, businesses and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes." This way, SHOULD they ever end up in court over something in the movie, they could say, "We weren't talking about you ... WE were talking about a FICTIONAL character." (i.e., the disclaimer at the end of the credits). Net: Every component, such as the actual # of birds, would go to the defense of that concept, in such a situation. (Note, as they say, even the names of the real people were changed to protect the guilty.) But that is just my guess. Does that make sense?

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