Tuesday, December 30, 2008

David Attenborough's The Life of Birds


If you haven't seen at least a few parts of David Attenborough's BBC series The Life of Birds, you're really missing something. I realize this series is years old, but you may have missed it.

Through the magic of Netflix, I've been slowly watching the DVDs of the series. So far I've seen the first two discs, which included chapters like "Fishing for a Living," "The Meat Eaters," "The Mastery of Flight," and my favorite so far, "Signals and Songs." Attenborough's fact-filled narration alone is brilliant and insightful, to say nothing of the endearingly hilarious sound of his accented voice saying, "THE Life... of Buhds." LOVE IT. I love him!

He is always sure to identify every bird he shows us (though not necessarily by specific type; for instance, he'll talk about "grebes in North America" without telling us that they're Western Grebes. But this is an anal-retentive birder's complaint). He travels through tropical rainforests in his cute little jungle khaki outfits and roams the icy coasts in sturdy outerwear, sits on the windy tundra getting his hair blown all over the place, gets attacked by a VERY territorial bird who knocks him over at one point, feeds bunches of hummers with a hand-held feeder, lies on a darkened beach watching shorebirds eat--you name it. For an older guy, he's in great shape and he hikes and climbs and crouches with the dexterity (and dirt-under-his-fingernails abandon) of a much younger man. He's like a hipper and soothing-voiced version of Marlin Perkins of Wild Kingdom fame (though I have to credit Perkins and of course Jim Fowler for kindling my absolutely psychotic love of nature and nature shows).

The birds themselves are spectacular: the lyrebird that can mimic a camera shutter sound complete with motordrive, the cock-of-the-rock and its spectacular plumage, sunbitterns and their crazy wings-out threat display, fieldfares who dive-bomb a raven and try to cover him with their poop (which could ground him and get him killed, BTW) to get him to leave their area. Attenborough covers the evolution of birds, mating, raising young, flight, eating, behavior--in short, everything you want to know about birds in general as well as specifics about a huge number of birds the world over.

If you haven't seen this series, WATCH IT. Especially if you've always dreamed of going to Peru or Costa Rica or Africa but couldn't afford it.

WARNING: the following is only for extreme bird-nerds and avian-kooks like me; You know who you are. I have to confess that I've been watching the episodes while holding my Birds of the World and both my eastern and my brand-new western Peterson's field guides; each time Attenborough mentions a new bird, I look it up, figure out specifically what type it is, note its geographical range, and read more details about it. (I warned you.)

Best yet, I checked it out on Amazon and it's only $34! Add to cart, baby. Add! to! cart!

I leave you with a completely unrelated photo: I saw these beautiful clouds while I was out this afternoon and couldn't resist. They almost look like lenticular clouds that form over mountaintops.

Note: More New River potential lifers posts coming up. Been kinda distracted of late, and my mind's just not fully on the birds.

20 comments:

Patrick Belardo said...

Crap. I posted this comment before and got an error. Sorry if it's a dupe... I was saying...

I highly recommend his other "Life of" series as well. I watched "Life in Cold Blood" on the plane to Australia. Replacing DA with Sigourney Weaver in the American version of Planet Earth was a travesty.

We saw Lyrebirds in Australia - they were sadly silent.

Mary said...

Delia,

Sounds great! I'll make it a goal in 2009 to watch more media. The only time I sit is when I eat or read blogs. Pathetic, huh?

I wish you a very good 2009, full of smiles. Can' wait to meet you.

Mary

my word verif: wingally

Earl Cootie said...

I had to skip the meat-eating segment. I have to cover my eyes in all the killing scenes; I think I'd have worn bald patches in my eyebrows for that one.

But I got watch hours and hours worth of birds of paradise. Their fancy displays and dancing send me into howls of delight every time.

dguzman said...

Patrick--as much as I love Sigourney Weaver, I too would protest anyone replacing DA. I don't know if I could handle Life in Cold Blood--sounds violent!

Mary--I'm really looking forward to finally seeing who's taller, me or you!

Earl--it's funny that you mention skipping "The Meat Eaters"--I did too! I tried to get Gretchen to watch it with me but she was too busy, so I just skipped it!

Rabbits' Guy said...

Regarding the "clouds" .... 'Klaatu barada nikto'

DCup said...

Tweet!

(I've been dying to do that for ages.)

Matty Boy said...

Thanks, dg. My netflix list is getting a little sparse and I can always use some cool suggestions.

Glad you already have have the Western field guide and I hope we get to use it together later this year.

Snave said...

We got this one for my parents about four Christmases ago. Wonderful stuff!!

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