Best bird documentary for you birders

I remember a scene in a TV programme on twitchers on the Isles of Scilly, where it was raining so a birder was shown staying indoors and watching a documentary. He explained that he would try to tick off as many bird species as possible from the documentary he was watching, in order to while away the time.

Anyway, I encourage you birders out there to write what your favourite bird-themed documentaries are, either for this rather arcane ticking game or otherwise for your entertainment.


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Never thought of that, but its an interesting perspective of listing down all the birds in documentaries, one of my favourites documentaries is called ‘bird of prey’, enjoyable and inspiring.


I was recently watching a penguin docuseries from BBC called “Penguins: Spy in the Huddle” and immediately became emotionally invested; there’s a scene where another penguin is comforting a mother who lost her chick that absolutely shatters me. There’s some clips of it on youtube if anybody’s interested. It’s also narrated by David Tennant, which is pretty cool!

I would bet that there are a lot of birders out there who see birds in movies and TV shows during regular viewing, and can pick out species and errors in the shows like when African vultures are used in shows made in the U.S. southwest deserts. This is because U.S. federal law forbids possession of migratory birds.

I watch British TV shows on DVD from our local libraries. I see barn owls in the Midsomer Murders episodes. I also hear birds that I cannot identify. I have never been to the U.K., and haven’t studied the birds’ call over there.

I also watch shows on DVD made in Australia like “The Brokenwood Mysteries”. I hear birds that I cannot identify.

(I should try to record these calls/songs and use the Merlin birding app on my phone. I would have to download the appropriate bird pack.)

I know a number of birders here in Northeast Ohio who watch golf on TV. We often post what birds we see and hear on the golf broadcasts in the U.S. My most frequently heard bird I can identify is the red-bellied woodpecker. I can also recall hearing Carolina wrens and cardinals. These are bold, loud birds that probably doesn’t care about the crowds on the courses. Mallards are also often seen on TV in the ponds around the courses. Gulls are difficult to ID in these broadcasts because they are flying.

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sure they were not sound effect birds?
I learned a really neat fact the other day - as I’d actually never heard bald eagle calls - but it does sound…less than epic. They use a red tailed hawk call for all programming, so our fancy magestic american bird the bald eagle sounds as epic as it should. If you search “bald eagle sound effect” they’re all red tail hawk calls. At the Auburn games, (am college football) when they fly the eagle around the stadium (I don’t know why - never been just told this is a thing) they even play the red tail hawk call on the PA so thats what you hear. It’s a huge thing! I never knew xD Every single ‘hollywood’ film uses it. Kinda like how all frogs go “ribbit” because that’s the species they had a recording of.

So anyway…I’d be warry of counting birds from calls on TV programs…

(In my defense, I am not a birder, and I have significant hearing loss and don’t even try to ID birds from calls so there’s no way I’d notice the discrepancy myself LOL)

I can assure you if it’s British tv, there’s at least one Robin singing louder than humans are talking. I don’t remember birds from MM, but local online community was interested in counting how many times that one barn owl and fox were shown. Fox sounds are very prevalent there at night times too.
There’s one captive Harris’s hawk as I remember, and a painted hoopoe.
upd. hah, I opened first episode of the first season, first 5 seconds and robin is there!

The best bird documentary to try to tick off species from is this one:

I have heard about that about eagles in programs and using red-tailed hawk calls for them. I have seen/heard it myself.

I will have to look up the robin song.

I also hear the red fox “scream” a lot in British TV shows in the countryside.

You can check here and here, it’s easy to recognize as it’s the only bird (in Europe) that uses that “tziii” part so much, other than song you can hear its alarm sounds, that are discribed as “sound of hitting polished stones”.

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