David Attenborough presents a ten-part insight into the evolution and behaviours of birds. In this first programme, computer graphics recreate the period 150 million years ago when small, fast-running dinosaurs evolved feathers and took to the air. In New Zealand, David examines the environment required by birds which have survived without recourse to flight, and enjoys a midnight encounter with a kiwi, captured on a starlight-sensitive camera.
David Attenborough offers an array of insights in to how birds have adapted to the air space and perfected the skills needed to fly. Though take-off is exhausting, and landing can be fraught with difficulties, birds are the masters of the air. They can fly with their wings back at speeds in excess of two hundred miles per hour, or remain in a completely stationary hover. But how do birds even manage to stay airborne?
A beak made from horn, without any teeth, might seem a clumsy implement for gathering food. Yet David Attenborough discovers that birds have evolved an amazing range of bill shapes and sizes designed to hammer out grubs from trees, winkle out tiny seeds from fruits, and sip nectar from the deep recesses of flowers.
From meat eating parrots in New Zealand to massive eagles that catch monkeys and flamingoes in Africa, David Attenborough looks at the dramatic ways in which these birds hunt their prey. To hunt, birds need super-senses and great skill. Some birds use exceptional hearing to track down their prey, while others use their supreme vision or a heightened sense of smell.
The Life of Birds : Fishing for a Living
Fresh and salt waters all over the world are rich in food and birds are the best fishers there are. David Attenborough follow birds from across the globe, including common mallards, revealing them as exquisite divers and American dippers who prise small creatures from underneath rocks in Yellowstone National Park. Wherever there is water, there are birds, who have learnt to get food there.
The Life of Birds : The Eloquent Communicators
David Attenborough reveals how birds have become expert communicators and use extraordinary patterns of colour and beautiful songs to deter predators, intimidate rivals and even impress potential mates. In Patagonia, he enters into a morse code conversation with one of the worlds largest woodpeckers. While the lyrebird of southern Australia has its own comprehensive selection of musical notes, but it also steals sounds from its environment and incorporates them into its own repertoire.
The Life of Birds : Finding Partners
David Attenborough reveals how male birds use both extraordinary displays and bizarre rituals in order to turn a females head, and how for many species its girl power that rules the dating game. Curassows and guans have bizarre calls that sound just like dropping bombs and electric drills. On the Galapagos Islands, frigate birds pump up their vivid red throat pouches. While the tiny fairy wren of southern Australia is revealed as the most promiscuous bird in the world.
The Life of Birds : The Demands of the Egg
David Attenborough explores the extraordinary variety of ways in which birds from all over the world construct their nests and protect their eggs from predators. Because birds need to be light in order to fly, each egg must be laid as soon as it is produced and then kept both warm and protected. So the vast majority of birds make nests of some kind. Australian warblers use their beaks like a sewing machine to stitch leaves together, and apostle birds use them to trowel mud on their nests.
The Life of Birds : The Problems of Parenthood
David Attenborough looks at the fascinating diversity of feeding practices and behavioural patterns employed by birds. Sweeping through an incredible range of species, including pelicans, sea eagles, babblers and finch chicks, it offers a thorough study of the way in which birds solve the problems of parenthood.