For some people across the country, a hint of spring is finally in the air. Others are still digging out from snowstorms. If you can’t get outside just yet to experience nature yourself, why not do a little bird-watching from the comfort of your couch… via your television?
Great bird documentaries can help you experience birds from around the globe, birds you may never have a chance to see in person. While most of us would rather get out and experience nature personally, we also know that it’s unlikely that we’ll be visiting places like Papua New Guinea or crawling into the treetops to check out baby birds in their nests, no matter what the weather. Documentaries can take us there, and provide plenty of good information along the way.
Here are three of my favorite bird documentaries. All are available for purchase from Amazon.com, or to rent from Netflix or Blockbuster.
Anytime I see the magic words “BBC documentary with David Attenborough”, I know I’m in for a treat. Attenborough is a top naturalist, and has been producing and narrating quality nature documentaries for the BBC for decades. The Life of Birds is a 7-part documentary (9 hours total) that explores bird life in fascinating detail. Each episode deals with a particular topic, such as flight or mating, and uses gorgeously filmed examples to illustrate the points. Attenborough is engaging and interesting, and will encourage you to find fascination in the smallest places… just like he does.
A complete change of pace from the standard documentary style, Winged Migration (90 minutes) includes almost no narration. Instead, the mesmerizing cinematography focuses on showing bird life from the point of view of birds themselves. Using incredible camera techniques, film crews shot alongside birds in the air, following them on their yearly migratory journeys. You’ll be tempted to think that special effects must be employed, but aside from a few digitally-added skyscapes, all the camera work is real – and astonishing. A quiet musical soundtrack allows you to focus on the images and draw your own conclusions about what you see and hear.
This PBS documentary (60 minutes total) is produced and narrated by (guess who?) David Attenborough. It’s an in-depth look at the almost unbelievable birds-of-paradise of Papua New Guinea. It includes lots of detail about how the natives of the region have incorporated these birds into their culture and their spiritual beliefs, and some really fun footage of David Attenborough first visiting the area when he was still a young man several decades ago.
These are just a very few of the wonderful bird documentaries available out there. If you have a favorite of your own, won’t you drop by the comments section and tell us about it? My Netflix list could use some new additions!