David Attenborough takes us back through time to show how birds evolved from the dinosaurs and took to the air. When the early mammals were still quite small, birds ruled the planet, with mighty vultures cruising the skies and huge, flightless 'terror-birds' stalking the land. The island of New Zealand was isolated for so long without mammals that it became a true paradise for birds.
Birds have adapted perfectly to the air space and honed 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. But 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. If their bills and tongues can't reach what they're seeking, some of them even use tools to help them get a meal.
From meat eating parrots in New Zealand to massive eagles that catch monkeys and flamingoes in Africa, dramatic footage shot around the world shows these birds hunting down 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.
Fresh and salt waters all over the world are rich in food and birds are the best fishers there are. Cameras 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 learned to get food there.
Birds have become expert communicators and use extraordinary patterns of color and beautiful songs to deter predators, intimidate rivals and even impress potential mates. In Patagonia, one of the world's largest woodpeckers taps out communications using its beak. 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.
© 1998 BBC
Copyright © 2023
All rights reserved.
Internet Service Terms
Apple TV & Privacy