Saturday, 31 January 2009

The Life of Birds

Life Of Birds

Life Of Birds

This 10-episode series by David Attenborough is spellbinding. Find out all about birds' evolution from winged dinosaurs; flight; the many uses and adaptations of feathers; the huge diversity of appearance, anatomy and behavior in the bird world.

And needless to say it's crammed with amazing footage (you haven't lived until you've seen the sea-eagles duelling in mid-air, or the black heron wrapping its wings around its head so it can see better, or the crested grebes doing their walk-on-water courtship dance).

One of my favourite examples of bird ingenuity was the New Caledonian crow, which shapes a broken-off twig to fish for grubs inside tree-bark. The grubs can't do much to defend themselves except bite, and the crow uses this behavior to its advantage: the crow pokes the grub with the twig until it bites the twig, then the crow withdraws the twig with the grub still attached, and eats it.

Another amazing behavior is that of Japanese crows which drop very hard nuts on the road so that they are crushed by passing traffic, and they retrieve the crushed nuts by waiting to cross the road with pedestrians.

There's so much more amazing stuff, some of which is described on the Life of Birds website.

It has this on the making of the programme:

""The Life of Birds" took three years to make at a cost of $15 million. Sir David Attenborough travelled 256,000 miles during filming - 10 times round the Earth. The production employed 48 cameramen and camerawomen, many of them battle-hardened veterans of overseas wildlife filming, working in 42 countries on five continents. They used up 200 miles of film on 300 bird subjects. "

You can read the whole article here.

And you can buy the entire Life of Birds series on DVD at Fishpond, here.

And today the BBC has some amazing footage of a flock of 20,000 starlings formation-flying in Gloucestershire. This has to be seen to be believed, go take a look!

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