winged migration
I had the chance to see Winged Migration last night on cable, and ended up sitting about two feet away from a 60 inch screen absolutely entranced. This stunningly creative and lavishly photographed film, made by a talented European film crew over three years, turned out to be highly controversial for two reasons. First, it was labelled a documentary, which it is not — there is almost no dialogue or information provided. It is in fact simply a story — the story of the incredible struggle that migrating birds face, due to a combination of natural and man-made dangers, during long, breathtaking journeys that take them up to half way around the world in non-stop legs of three days at a time, during which they lose more than half their body weight before bulking up for the next leg. Secondly, the film-makers were charged with ‘staging’ some of the perils the birds faced, and then rescuing them just before their apparent on-screen demise. To this charge the crew pleads guilty — they raised some of the birds themselves, accustoming them to the proximity of men and the gliders and drones that were used for much of the filming, and they became close to them. Nevertheless, the ‘enacted’ dangers are very real for migrating birds.

The film is currently touring some IMAX theatres. If the prospect of watching some of the most amazing cinematography in the history of film intrigues you, and if having non-human ‘heroes’ of an adventure that needs and has no words doesn’t strike you as boring, check it out. Caution: some scenes are troubling for children and those that can’t bear to watch animals suffer.

Also for bird-lovers, there are two excellent sites with bird song extracts to help you if the strange visual and mnemonic representations of bird songs just don’t work for you. Tony Phillips’ award-winning site has hundreds of samples and links to many other sample sites for other parts of the world. And Doug at NatureSongs has an even larger selection, with some interesting commentary.

Another great resource for birders, though a little commercial for my tastes, is

And two excellent birdwatching blogs are 10,000 Birds and Salon Blogs’ own Ted Ritzer.

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1 Response to FOR THE BIRDS

  1. hetty says:

    excellent film. seen it twice in the theater. the suffering was extremely painful but still worth seeing. i look at birds completely differently now.

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