Birds of the Gods

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On the island of New Guinea in the South Pacific lives the most striking and diverse group of birds on the planet. Birds of paradise defy imagination. Covered in spectacular plumage, each species within the Paradisaeidae family is distinct. Some birds are patterned with feathers of bright yellow and green, some have flashy iridescent plumes that catch the light, while others have tails that extend three times the length of their body. Bizarre courtship displays by the male birds show off their exquisite assets, as they dance, puff out, vibrate, hang upside down, stretch their wings, and even contort their bodies into completely different shapes in order to impress a nearby female.

The people of New Guinea see the souls of their ancestors in these creatures. The birds inform tribal ceremonies and their plumes are used as religious relics, fashion accessories, and currency. The first Europeans to see bird specimens in the sixteenth-century were sure they had stumbled upon a family of birds direct from the Garden of Eden. Nineteenth-century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace believed the birds “must be ranked as one of the most beautiful and most wonderful of living things.”

NATURE follows local biologists and conservationists, Miriam Supuma and Paul Igag, into the dense, mosquito-ridden forests in their quest to document the mating behaviors of several exceptional and elusive birds of paradise. Their work gives us new insights into the habits and population health of the different species. Working with local tribes, they research which birds of paradise are most in need of protection, and the team is able to work toward curbing the hunting practices that put these delicate birds at risk. Don’t miss the strange, beautiful antics of a family of birds so remarkable, they truly do seem to be visitors from paradise.

Production Credits Print

NARRATED BY
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

PRODUCED & DIRECTED BY
HARVEY JONES

EDITOR
CHARLES DAVIES

PHOTOGRAPHY
ROBIN SMITH
DAVE ALLEN

ASSISTANT PRODUCER
BEN WALLIS

MUSIC
PAUL LAWLER

DUBBING MIXER
MATT SKILTON

COLORIST
JONATHAN LIEB

ONLINE EDITOR
ADAM GRANT

PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATORS
STEPHANIE VARVELL
SARAH TUCKER

ARCHIVE COURTESY OF
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
HIENZ SIELMANN FOUNDATION

SPECIAL THANKS
PAPUA NEW GUINEA INSTITUTE OF BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH
NATIONAL FILM INSTITUTE OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA
PNG HIGH COMMISSION
DANIEL WAKRA
JONATHAN WATTS
KEN FIELD

PRODUCTION MANAGERS
RACHEL LYON
MARY KEEVIL

BBC PRODUCTION MANAGER
DI WILLIAMS

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
JEREMY BRADSHAW

FOR NATURE

SERIES EDITOR
JANET HESS

SUPERVISING PRODUCER
JANICE YOUNG

SENIOR PRODUCER
LAURA METZGER

PRODUCTION MANAGER
JULIE SCHAPIRO THORMAN

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
JAYNE JUN

RE-RECORDING MIXER
ED CAMPBELL

HD ONLINE EDITOR
CHRIS CONNOLLY

SERIES PRODUCER
BILL MURPHY

EXECUTIVE IN CHARGE
WILLIAM GRANT

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
FRED KAUFMAN

A co-production of Tigress Productions Limited and THIRTEEN in association with BBC for WNET.ORG

This program was produced by THIRTEEN, which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2011 WNET.ORG Properties LLC and Tigress Productions Limited
All rights reserved

WEB CREDITS

PRODUCER
KATE FULTON

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
CHIE WITT

PRODUCTION ASSISTANCE
SARAH DARRO

DESIGNER
JOY WEEENG

PAGEBUILDING
BRIAN SANTALONE

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
BRIAN LEE

CREATIVE DIRECTOR
NICK MILLER

DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL STRATEGY
DAVID HIRMES

SENIOR DIRECTOR
DANIEL B. GREENBERG

WRITERS

Sarah Darro and Kate Fulton
for “Introduction”

Kate Fulton
for “Birds of Paradise and Sexual Selection”