Starring a highly engaging cast of avian and human players, “Birders” vividly captures the distinctive colors and markings of a vast number of bird species and the equally individualized personalities of those watching them within the confines of Central Park, whose man-made natural wonders add striking visual footnotes. Given the growing popularity of birding, saluted in 2011’s “The Big Year,” Jeffrey Kimball’s hourlong docu, bowing in Gotham on Jan. 18, could lure wildlife-starved urban auds despite its earlier HBO airing.
Director Kimball’s sharply focused, serenely ravishing nature photography provides reason enough to go armchair birding. As yellow-rumped warblers, pied-billed grebes and dark-eyed juncos fly, hop or nest, their binoculared watchers enumerate the joys and vicissitudes of their admitted obsession. Spry, intrepid septuagenarian Starr Saphir continues to lead bird walks despite terminal breast cancer, finding inner peace in her lifelong vocation. A young man, forced to explain his offbeat pursuit to non-birding friends, comes up with seven reasons to bird, last among them the “unicorn effect”: spotting a rarity in nature is like seeing a mythical creature suddenly appear before your eyes in real life.