Birds of the Gods

Watch a preview of Birds of the Gods:

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.

  • Matt Davis

    I can’t wait to see this episode. I love birds. Birds of Paradise are very beautiful, this episode should be very interesting.

  • Phylis

    “Video not available due to restriction rights”. What a shame. I live in Vancouver, Canada and we are asked to contribute to pledge drives all the time and do so willingly.

  • Randal

    One of the best examples of how wonderful nature can be. My Blu-ray collection of Planet Earth features these birds and is probably the most memorable of all the footage. Fantasic HD footage and I look forward to a more extended version on these birds.

  • Laura

    I just watched the show. I would have never imagined there were so many different birds of paradise! The male plumage was so diverse and beautiful. And the dances were great!
    Should it be decided that any of these species should be protected I wonder how that decision would go over with the native people. After all the feathers are not only used in costumes but are symbols of status.
    Sadly, I noticed at the end of the program that Paul Igag had passed away. Did his death occur during the making of the program? My prayers go out to his family.

    Thank you for such a lovely and insightful show. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • Denise

    Wow….It was so amazing I cried. Never ceases to amaze me the beauty in this world. Nothing fills the heart and soul like watching shows like this.

  • Jessica & Lynne

    We both loved this video so much! The birds are beautiful and seem surreal! Absolutely amazing! Is it available to buy on dvd?

  • Will

    It’s always nice to see ecologists working to preserve their local environment before it is disturbed by man. Rather than the usual, frantic assessments to define local animal and plant populations after the fact.

    So sad to hear that Paul Igag died last year. By the end of the episode you could see his and Miriam’s dedication to their island and its future conservation. He will be missed.

  • Heather

    We love nature programs in our home so finding a program about birds of paradise was a pleasant surprise. What wasn’t pleasant was the cut to the tribal dance displaying full frontal nudity. Why was there no Adult rating on this program? As a parent, I am irate that my children were exposed to such images without parental notice. PBS does not usually disappoint, but when it comes to family, the network failed miserably in this instance.

  • N Miller

    Beautiful show and how great to hear David Attenborough’s great voice again!

    One small criticism–in the segment about the Blue PoB, the narration makes a big deal about the amazing sound the male makes in the presence of the female. But the sound track continues right over this amazing sound, muffling and masking the sound we are being told about! Can I suggest you edit the sound track and allow the music to drop down for at least a few seconds so we can hear this amazing sound that David is describing? Please?

    Thanks for the great work!

  • Ann Frisina

    This program may have turned me into a birder. It was just too incredible especially here in frigid Minnesota.

  • MMMS

    Excellent program! Transports you into a lush and colorful ancient world. Fascinating to see the footage from 1957 vs today. So sorry to see the dedication at the end to the bird biologist, Paul Igag. Apparently died of a heart attack Oct2010 age 46. RIP Paul, may your legacy live on in the conservation of those magnificent birds.

  • Andy

    I strongly support N Miller’s comments about the music masking the bird sounds described by Attenborough. To overlay a music track on such rare bird sounds that were so difficult to record seems counter to the intentions of the field biologists and the film crew. I suspect some of this footage will continue to be shown many years from now and form a valued piece of our biological and cultural history as do the older black and white sequences included in the program.

  • Budd

    Good program but I was a bit disappointed to have Mr. Attenborough talking almost continuously while music was playing in the background when the Blue Bird-of-parardise was making the barely audible mating call.

  • Elizabeth

    Stunning show and amazing videography. The Blue Bird of paradise’s sounds were very audible- perhaps because it seemed so unnatural it was difficult for others to discern- ? Those involved with this work have great patience and sense of wonderment. A great escape – as local air temperatures hovered around -20 F.

  • Julie Pepe

    How awesome to be transported to New Guinea and get to see these sites and hear these sounds without having to leave my living room. The antique prints of the birds in the books in the beginning were stunning as well. I wonder how many of them are endangered or have disappeared since those books were printed.
    How sad when that one bird hung upside down and tried to attract his female mate, only to have her fly off
    and not give him a chance at the end of his dance. I was sad for him.

  • Gerald F. Shields

    A fabulous presentation!! The remarkable beauty of the birds, the difficulty in observing the various behaviors, the joy of observation. Ultimately, we as humans will want to preserve space for these remarkable creatures. If we loose them, they are gone forever. That would be a monumental tragedy.

  • Patty Mack

    It was a wonderful program and the film footage was excellent. I agree with the comments of the sound track over the very low bird calls a few more moments of silence to enjoy the calls would have been enjoyed more. I agree that the beautiful bird doing his upside male dance display was so sadly stood up – he looked so sad… the female definitely was picky! Thank you for the fantastic program and we need to keep up the conservation efforts – to lose such a species of birds would be a huge loss. Speaking of loss, it is sad to know the loss of Paul Igag; I hope that other researchers will continue in his footsteps to preserve the wonders of these bird species.

  • lou

    1st: major KUDOS!!

    three complaints in order of magnitude:

    in my area PBS HD is only avail over the air . . . so i got to watch a crappy presentation.

    there should have been no music overlay when the birds were in court

    the nudity was so gratuitous . . . and short it could have been left out!

    this episode is not listed to play again and is not avail to download. a friend of mine says he has a hdmi out port on his laptop and runs a cable to his tv. guess i will invite myself over to his place!!

    PBS’s effort to retain local control is transparent . . . they won’t to frequently ask for money!! I would rather have HD with commercials!! Come on PBS . . . it’s the 21th century. All content, voice, media and data will be internet delivered soon. Broadcast, cable and others will howl at the moon!! but it is here. I am watching live tv news via internet now. Station url changes weekly as we stay ahead of the old zealots, but it is not against the law!

  • Robert

    I missed the 7 pm viewing but I set the alarm to see the replay at 1 am. The show is so amazing that I’m not even tired!!!!!!!!!

  • Andrew

    I won’t donate to PBS until these videos are allowed into Canada. This is stupid.

  • Roibeard

    Although i’ve watched PBS since it started only recently have i become addicted to Nature. And the recent show on the various Birds of Paradise almost cause an overdose !!! Just mind-blowing!! The greatest fiction writers could never imagine this !!! I mean: upside down, stripper-like swirling tassels, and that spooky smilyface from hell that clicks!!! Oh, and the umbrella steps routine !!! I thought that the barrow bird was odd but now….. Has anyone seen the show on Cuttlefish?? It was actually on Nova but the setups and so on are sooo similar. I must say that this animal is by far the most interesting creature that i think that i’ve ever witnessed ! ! !It changes colors, shapes, textures and uses internal electricity to make electronic patterns on their bodies and hypnotize their prey!!!!! They can add, figure out problems and more. I would not be surprised to suggest that there is even more to them in levels of intelligence !!! Anyway thanx for letting me share !!!

  • Bob Hart

    I was very frustrated when Miriam Supuma finally got to see a Blue Bird of Paradise. David Attenborough remarked on the unique sound created by the bird’s vibrating feathers but I could barely make it out over the intrusive music track.

  • Mike Miller

    I have kept many species of exotic birds over 35 years, so needless to say there is not much to get me overly excited in the realm of ornithology that I have seen at the many zoos I have visited or national bird shows I have attended or private aviaries that I have visited. With that being said, this is a remarkable piece of work that you will not only see the rarest of the rare and most beautiful of the most colorful objects on the planet in a single setting, but you will witness a courtship in the bird kingdom like no other. Say what you want about sound tracks, etc. but just to get these avian gems on film footage, and 10 species at that, is nothing less than remarkable!

  • Cynthia

    Beauty beyond words.
    Okay PBS, my check’s in the mail !

  • Jaki Good

    What an incredible show. Great video-ography and narration. I was awestruck at the beauty of these remarkable creatures. God is amazing. I love (and support) PBS!!

  • Kazimierz

    When will this full episode be available online? I missed it and am dying to see it!

  • patersondave

    it is unforgivable that the narrator describes the courting sounds as unearthly and unique and someone added recorded music over this great sound. how stupid can you get? it’s bad enough he talks over the nature sounds but adding music is a crime.
    aside from that, the show was great.

  • Art

    BRAVO!!!!! I only caught half the show but I can’t get enough. I tried desperately to get my kids and wife to view this remarkable feat. To no avail. (They were busy, :-( .They have to witness this show. Thank you PBS!

  • amanda

    when is this airing?

  • Mark

    For so many people above to watch this incredible show and then complain about music, etc., is absolutely ridiculous. This presentation is spectacular in every respect – congratulations to the producers, and I’m thankful that David was still able to narrate this after so many years in the field! I also was very sad to see that Paul passed away. And for those who who complain about such inoffensive nudity, when their children can easily see many, MUCH more explicit things with a simple Google search, I wonder what planet they are living on. I thought it was fascinating that humans mimic the dancing of the birds in their own courtship displays.

  • luna

    Rest In Peace Paul Igag. You and your work will forever be missed.

  • another Mark

    No, the complaints about the music are spot on. What is the point of pointing out the unique sound being made by these birds if it is so completely dominated by the music? (I’d be surprised if David Attenborough was very pleased with the result.)

    Note to the producers – how about making the music optional on the DVD release? (It’s not bad music – it just shouldn’t have been so pervasive.)

  • Utahbooklover

    Wonderful show! The music could have been lower volume, I agree. Otherwise very well done. Thank you PBS.

    What a shame that Paul Igag died at the young age of 46. It is a reminder that everyone should “know their numbers” – that is, know your lipid profile results (cholesterol, HDL, etc.) and even if the results are borderline, do something about it. Your good health is in your hands.

  • Claire Laurendeau

    I just finished watching this episode of Nature broadcast on Vermont Public Television. So vividly awe inpiring and informative. Praise for the work of Miriam Supuma and Paul Igog. The hours sitting and waiting with the intent to view such natural wonders to bring the film to the world and to further their education in the field. I was saddened to see that Paul has passed onto the spirit world yet his work lives on. Thank you for this wonderful episode.

  • Garry

    Music way too loud, couldn’t hear the birds. Mark, I can hear music in an elevator, the birds are the subject here. Excellent presentation….just beautiful. Sad for Paul’s passing.

  • george

    THIS IS THE MOST BEAUTY FULL THING I HAVE EVER SEEN.WE portray these costumes in my COUNTRY TRINIDAD&TOBAGO.FOR CARNIVAL.We got our customs from the national geographic books.I could not get enough of this beauty full display.I thank you for the education. GOD BLESS.

  • Alane

    I love PBS, but often get sucked into network shows. Tonight I’m so glad I was grabbed by this show on the Bird of Paradise. They are awesome, gorgeous birds!! The show was fascinating! Nearly a perfect show, with the exception of the already mentioned volume problem. Overall, GREAT JOB PBS!!

    I’m sorry to see that Paul Igag died at such a young age!

  • David

    How ironic. I wanted to watch the video but it is not available in my region… Papua New Guinea! By the way, the bird of paradise is the national bird here and adorns the tail of each of the aircraft in my companies fleet, which is the national carrier, Air Niugini.

  • Monika

    I saw this episode last night. It was fascinating. At the end there was mention on the screen that Paul Igag died in 2008 at age 44. What happened to him?

  • Rose

    January 24/1 MMMS tells us that Paul died of a heart attack. Amazing photography of amazing birds! Makes our robins look kinda drab!! Heather, sweety, full frontal nudity is nothing to be frightened of – it’s all part of NATURE!

  • Alicia

    There was nudity?

    I thought it was a wonderful presentation.

  • melissa

    What happened to Paul Igag? I was saddened to see he had passed.

    I was also wondering what the new conservation efforts looked like. I’m sorry that the program didn’t mention anything more about it besides saying that Miriam and Paul were embarking on new efforts to preserve these stunning birds for future generations to come.

    Thank you, as usual, PBS for airing such worthy programming! NATURE is one of my favourite series on television!

  • Kathy

    I was watching the show last night while my husband was watching football in the next room. When the birds were doing their magnificent transformation and awesome movements, I made him come watch. He actually changed the channel and watched the entire show (on his big screen , of course). I can’t say anything that hasn’t been already said. It was also interesting get a peek at the life style of the people, but saddened that the birds are being destroyed for their plumage. Congrats to the scientists, film crew and everyone else involved. It would have been nice if Mr. A would have let the sounds be heard instead of his voice.

  • Gerri

    The was the most fascinating show I have seen in a very long time. I can’t wait to watch it over and over. I guess I will have to buy it. Beautiful, Beautiful. What a mark of professionalism all around!

    I was saddened to note that Paul Igag had passed. What a contribution he made and a legacy he left . . . to us all.

  • jean denes

    I saw part of this, found timing of next showing, and recorded on two different VCR’s. One ripped the tape when it rewound; that other is lost. When can I watch it again? Don’t think I have ever fallen so in love with a show.
    Others might enjoy seeing “Beautiful Birds you Seldom See” on the internet. Just Google it. One shown is the Winson Bird of Paradise. Thank you PBS!!

  • Sharon

    We watched this episode. Wonderful birds and entertaining show. We learned a lot!

  • Laura

    I am soooo disappointed to find that this episode is not on line. I am here now to watch it. I didn’t tape it because I was busy at the time and thought to myself ‘I can just watch it later on my terrific new laptop screen.’ Boy, is this a bummer. I have had no problem watching the very popular Fabric of the Universe from Nova so I am very shocked that this is different. Isn’t this the techno age? Usually the stations always want you to go to the web site and promt you during the program multiple times. PBS or who ever controls the ability to watch the episode on-line really needs to work out a deal to make this happen!!

  • Jane

    Wonderful program, but count me among the people somewhat maddened by the intrusive and unceasing music. Somebody in the production of this program, who really ought to find another line of work, apparently thought that the birds and the sounds of nature themselves weren’t interesting enough to stand by themselves and had to add cutesy music to the birds’ dances. What he or she did was to destroy a chunk of the magic of those sequences. How odd in a program about man’s intrusions into the birds’ lives that one man/woman intruded so much on a film about the birds themselves.

    If you don’t have faith in the inherent interest of the subject to present it without gimmicks, *don’t do the film.*

  • Maggy

    What an amazing video of Birds of Paradise! My family and I really enjoyed watching it. So much that we will purchase the video. I must say, these beautiful birds are truly from paradise, originating from the garden of Eden.
    Great job Nature!

  • Taylor

    The dance music was perfect!

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