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Birds of the Gods []



This 2011 DVD release of the latest beautiful and informative documentary from the BBC/Nature series captures the spectacular beauty of the native birds of New Guinea. In the 16th century European explorers named the gorgeous and elusive birds of the island “Birds of Paradise”. The local indigenous people have revered them for centuries and honor them as sacred ancestors by wearing their feathers as status symbols in elaborate headdresses during tribal ceremonies. This tradition, however, has made the more exotic and colorful birds’ feathers highly prized and, together with loss of habitat, has threatened the species’ survival and made them vulnerable to extinction. The ever-present BBC narrator David Attenborough introduces us to local biologists and conservationists, Miriam Supuma and Paul Igog, whose knowledge of the area and expertise guides us through the dense forests to document the elusive birds. The film does a good job of conveying the difficulty and challenges posed to researchers in the area, who must face incredibly difficult terrain, elusive and skittish subjects and are faced with centuries of local tradition and customs in their efforts to research and protect the birds of New Guinea. The joy of the researchers, when they do witness one of the elusive birds mating displays and dances, is palpable and infectious. The birds of New Guinea have evolved in relative isolation for thousands of years and have developed a wide variety of plumage, some with vivid iridescent blue and green coloring while others have tail feathers up the three times the length of their body. Overall, the film offers a satisfying, informative and visually captivating look at a corner of the world the viewer might not be familiar with and is a sure hit for birdwatchers and fans of nature docs alike.

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