Best of Birds

Air date: 12/01/2014

Best of Birds Features Riveting Sequences of Avian Behavior, Intellect and Flight Airing in December on PBS


Program includes scenes from the Emmy-award-winning films, “My Life as a Turkey,” “An Original DUCKumentary,” and many more


Nature’s special presentation of Best of Birds is a compilation of the most compelling, emotional and even humorous stories about bird intelligence, behavior, relationships and flight drawn from the series’ extensive archives. Introduced by Nature’s executive producer Fred Kaufman, Best of Birds presents excerpts from 16 notable programs and airs in December on PBS (check local listings).

Among the selected films is “An Original DUCKumentary” which features such memorable scenes as tiny ducklings breaking through their shells in their first few moments of life and, a day later, upon hearing their mother’s call, instinctively jumping out of a tall oak tree to join her on the ground far below.

In an excerpt from “My Life as a Turkey,” naturalist Joe Hutto describes how it felt to see a young poult emerge from its shell and look him straight in the eye when Hutto made the same turkey-like sound he had been making to the egg before it hatched. His moving story of imprinting with a clutch of young turkeys in Central Florida also touches upon examples of their intelligence.

Rockhoppercams, eggcams and even rockcams film a humorous sequence from “Penguins: Spy in the Huddle” as a jealous female rockhopper penguin returns from the sea only to find her mate mistakenly wooing an animatronic camera disguised as a life-size member of the colony.

Precision diving by osprey in pursuit of fish and how they manage to get back up into the air is captured and explained in a scene from “Moment of Impact.” Meanwhile, the sophisticated cameras of “Earthflight” show gannets arrow-diving into the waters off the South African coast, dodging sharks and whales in their pursuit of the great sardine run.

Best of Birds also includes a segment from “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air” about Ecuador’s sword-billed hummingbird, showing why its four-inch bill is longer than its body. A clip from “Deep Jungle” showcases the talents of the red-capped manakin, whose ritual includes the only known case of birds moonwalking; while in “What Females Want and Males Will Do,” the male superb lyrebird is shown copying any sound it hears whether natural or man-made. These include a set of human footsteps, a click of a camera and even the screech of a car’s brakes.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET.  For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Best of Birds is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET.

Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry.  Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers.  The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.

Nature has won over 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 12 Emmys and three Peabodys.  The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Recently, the International Wildlife Film Festival honored Nature executive producer Fred Kaufman with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Media. is the award-winning web companion to Nature, featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides and more.

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