The Life of Birds [DVD] 
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David Attenborough presents this series detailing the many and varied breeds of bird to be found around the world. In 'To Fly or Not to Fly', David traces the evolution of the bird back millions of years to the time of the dinosaurs. 'The Mastery of Flight' reveals the secrets behind birds' aeronautical skills. In 'The Insatiable Appetite', David looks at the tools birds use to help them forage for and consume food. 'Meat-Eaters' details the strategies and skills used by meat-eating scavengers. In 'Fishing for a Living', David looks at the birds who feed on the sea, from filter feeders to fish eagles. 'Signals and Songs' details the ways in which birds communicate, from song to colour patterns. In 'Finding Partners', David looks at the mating rituals and patterns and the part they play in a bird's life. In 'The Demands of the Egg', David looks at the dangers inherent in the natural urge to reproduce. 'The Problems of Parenthood' investigates the demands made on the parents of insatiably hungry young birds, while in 'The Limits of Endurance', David looks at the challenges birds must face in order to survive their constantly changing environment.
Like the albatross glimpsed in the beginning of this 10-part series The Life of Birds quickly takes flight. Sir David Attenborough hosts this unprecedented and extraordinary global look at the magnificent and often curious winged species with which we share our planet. Like the best wildlife shows, The Life of Birds offers a fresh and accessible view of creatures we may take for granted (didn't Alfred Hitchcock warn us about that?). The focus of this series is not on the different bird species, but on bird behaviour. Remarkable and awe-inspiring footage preserves the wide range of tools and techniques with which birds fly, hunt for food, attract a mate, hatch their chicks and defend themselves against predators. Attenborough pops up in the most remote, most exotic locales, with occasional comic effect: at one point, night-vision cameras capture the rare sight of the nocturnal kiwi as it forages for food on a New Zealand beach; the camera pans to reveal scant paces away our guide shining a flashlight on the nonplussed bird. --Donald LiebensonSee all Product description
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A great film.....
Following on from the well received Private Life of Plants (1994) The Life of Birds (1998) series continued Attenborough’s exploration of the natural world focusing exclusively on birds. The series contains 10 episodes packed onto 3 disks, each 50 minutes in length (to satisfy US broadcasters).
My only real complaints about this dvd is the transfer quality which is far from great though perhaps an accurate portrait of 1990s digital photography. The colours are not very strong, quite pasty, the image is quite soft and the picture is rather grainy when featuring scenes filmed in low light.
The only other issues are the score which is a slightly awkward transition from the 1980s symphonic sounds to the orchestral music were more used to today.
Episode one features Attenborough not only introducing various birds to us but also tracing their evolutionary history, this features him visiting a couple of fossil sights as well as some rather dubious 1990s CGI. It’s a great educational lesson though and the image quality improves too as we transition into various close ups. The story of the kakapo is also told, there was something so sad about it’s demise that I could hardly think of something sadder that the last known male species at that time still climbing to the peaks of its Island calling for a mate until the end. There are also various attempts throughout episode one while telling the story to use as many modern examples as possible when describing various adaptations in their evolutionary story, this approach is very similar to Life on Earth (1979).
Fishing for a Living is another of my favourite episodes. As Attenborough rightly points out most of the planet is covered in water so birds which can hunt in them may be able to find plenty of food. In this episode we meet dippers, kingfishers which can hover, as well as the humble mallard.
"Signals and Songs" is another very revealing episode focusing on the visual and audio displays used by birds to declare their territory and to attract a mate. Attenborough treks through woodland bringing down various finches to the ground to feed as well as tricking a woodpecker into revealing itself through an elaborate knocking game.
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