I had no idea there was such a thing as competitive bird watching, but THE BIG YEAR assures us that there is. This is Bill Kurtis speaking for Roger Ebert. An annual award goes to the birder who sees the most different species in a year. Would you believe the winning score was above 700? THE BIG YEAR stars Owen Wilson as the defending champion and Jack Black and Steve Martin, who want to sprinkle salt on his tale. Wilson plays his usual smooth-talking-master-of-one-upmanship. They spend all their time frantically chasing down rumors of rare bird sightings in remote locations. The comedy involves Owen Wilson’s dirty tricks, camaraderie among the others, and a great many peculiar birders. There is some great bird photography here. I wish there had been more. I think I may have seen Jack Black falling down enough times for one lifetime. The movie is getting the enthusiastic support of the Autobahn society, and has an innocence and charm that will make it appealing for families, especially those who have had enough whales and dolphins for the year. I give it thumbs up.