Birds of paradise are one of David Attenborough's lifelong passions. He was the first to film many of their beautiful and often bizarre displays, and over his lifetime he has tracked them all over the jungles of New Guinea. In this very personal film, he uncovers the remarkable story of how these 'birds from paradise' have captivated explorers, naturalists, artists, film-makers and even royalty. He explores the myths surrounding their discovery 500 years ago, the latest extraordinary behaviour captured on camera and reveals the scientific truth behind their beauty: the evolution of their spectacular appearance has in fact been driven by sex.

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 43 minutes

Premier: None

Attenborough's Paradise Birds - The Life of Birds - Netflix

The Life of Birds is a BBC nature documentary series written and presented by David Attenborough, first transmitted in the United Kingdom from 21 October 1998. A study of the evolution and habits of birds, it was the third of Attenborough's specialised surveys following his major trilogy that began with Life on Earth. Each of the ten 50-minute episodes discusses how the huge variety of birds in the world deal with a different aspect of their day-to-day existence. The series was produced in conjunction with BBC Worldwide Americas Inc. and PBS. The executive producer was Mike Salisbury and the music was composed by Ian Butcher and Steven Faux. It won a Peabody Award in 1999 for combining “spectacular imagery and impeccable science.” Part of Attenborough's 'Life' series of programmes, it was preceded by The Private Life of Plants (1995), and followed by The Life of Mammals (2002). Before the latter was transmitted, David Attenborough presented State of the Planet (2000) and narrated The Blue Planet (2001).

Attenborough's Paradise Birds - 6. "Signals and Songs" - Netflix

Broadcast 25 November 1998, this installment describes ways of communicating. A colony of fieldfares in Sweden deters a raven from raiding a nest by collectively raising an audible alarm. However, in an English wood, all species co-operate to warn each other surreptitiously of approaching danger. By contrast, a sunbittern is shown expanding its plumage to discourage a group of marauding hawks. The members of the finch family exemplify how colour aids recognition. Birds have excellent colour vision, and the feathers of many species react to ultraviolet light. Flocking birds, such as sparrows, also have a 'ranking system' that determines seniority. In Patagonia, Attenborough demonstrates the effectiveness of sound: he summons a Magellanic woodpecker by knocking on a tree. The nature of tropical rainforests means that their occupants tend to make much louder calls than those in other habitats, and several such species are shown. Saddlebacks vary their calls so that even individuals from different areas can be identified. The dawn chorus provides a mystery, as there is still much to learn about why so many different birds sing together at the same time of day. (Proclaiming territory or attracting mates are two likely reasons.) Finally, Attenborough introduces the superb lyrebird as one of the most versatile performers: it is a skilled mimic, and this particular one imitates not only other species, but also cameras, a car alarm and a chain saw.

Attenborough's Paradise Birds - References - Netflix