WARREN Both a book and a movie have been made about Sugarcreek resident Greg Miller's yearlong effort in 1998 to spot the most species of birds.
Miller, a birding expert, shared his bird watching skills and stories behind the book and movie about his ''big year'' at a recent program at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library.
In 1998, Miller had a friendly competition with two other birders to spot the most species of birds in North America, which is documented in the 2004 book "The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession,'' by author Mark Obasmscik.
The tale was brought to the big screen in the 2011 comedy film ''The Big Year'' featuring actor Steve Martin. Miller was the inspiration for the character portrayed by Jack Black in the movie and also served as the bird expert for the film.
Miller said he began birding as a boy and credited his father for getting him interested.
"I grew up with the Peterson's Bird Guide," he said.
About the experience of having his story immortalized on film, he said: "I'm still dumfounded. My jaw dropped when the book came out and later the movie."
He has since been to all 50 states and Canada to look for birds. Miller said he views each trip as an adventure.
Miller, of Tuscarawas County, said the film is about extreme bird-watching and three obsessive birders, and he himself is featured as an extra in a crowd scene.
He said he was a consultant on the film during some of the filming.
The book is the story of how Miller and two other birders, Sandy Komito from New Jersey and Al Levantin from Colorado, pursued birds in what bird-watchers call a "Big Year," an attempt to spot as many species of birds as possible in a calendar year.
Miller said that in the 1998 competition, Komito set a record at 745 species. Miller spotted 715 birds and Levantin spied 710.
Miller has his own website at www.gregmillerbirding.com where he shares his story and has presented his program at various venues.