Attenborough's Birds of Paradise
Our fascination with birds of paradise has lasted 500 years. In this film, David Attenborough offers his own personal take on the mystery and discovery, obsession and scientific revelation surrounding these elusive birds.
David Attenborough has been fascinated by birds of paradise since he was a child. They inspired him to embark, aged 31, on an epic adventure to the remote island of New Guinea in the hope of filming their bizarre displays for the first time.
He’s not alone in his obsession with these living jewels of the rainforest. From Papua New Guinea tribesmen to European royalty, artists, scientists and collectors, the fascination with these birds has spanned 500 years.
In this film, David Attenborough traces the origins of mankind’s obsession with birds of paradise; to capture, possess, paint and film them. He himself has spent a lifetime filming their displays, (many for the first time) and researching these birds both in their remote forest homes and in the museums and collections of Europe. He reveals the passion that these birds have brought about in so many human hearts, from collectors and painters to wildlife cameramen. He uncovers the true science behind their extraordinary lives, revealing that, far from being icons of religious virtuosity, the evolution of their beauty has in fact been driven by sex.
He also views the latest images of previously unseen displays captured by a new generation of bird of paradise enthusiasts.