Netflix documentary ‘Dancing with the Birds’ celebrates stunning avian breeding displays

Earlier this year, Netflix debuted Our Planet, an eight-part big-budget documentary series that isn’t your typical nature flick. While it features gorgeous cinematography, it also presents the truth about human actions on nature. “Repeatedly, unambiguously, and urgently, Our Planet reminds its viewers that the wonders they are witnessing are imperiled by human action,” notes The Atlantic.

Today, Netflix viewers can watch a new documentary from the team that produced Our Planet.  Dancing with the Birds is a one-hour film about the spectacular mating behaviors of birds-of-paradise and a few other tropical species from around the world. It is a visually stunning film and features an engaging script about the birds it profiles. English actor, comedian, and author Stephen Fry narrates, providing both gravitas and humor to the story.

Unlike its longer predecessor series, Dancing with the Birds doesn’t mention the threats birds face from habitat loss, pesticides, or anything else. And that’s fine. The point of the film is to celebrate the planet’s most stunning avian breeding displays.

Dancing seems to use some of the same footage that appeared in Our Planet, and, like the earlier film, it includes a soundtrack that I found distracting at times. The music doesn’t exist in the background, as it typically does in most David Attenborough documentaries, for example. After a while, I decided not to focus on the music simply because the closeups of the birds were incredible and a joy to watch.

The team of videographers includes two names that you may be familiar with: Tim Laman and Ed Scholes. They led the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s groundbreaking Birds-of-Paradise Project several years ago that produced a film, a book, and a National Geographic article about the various species of birds-of-paradise.

We’re happy to present the following slideshow of photos from the film. Images courtesy Netflix.

Black Sicklebill

Black Sicklebill
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This large bird-of-paradise performs a courtship display in which it perches at the top of dead tree. It stretches horizontally and pulls its pectoral plumes raised around its head. It's stunning to watch.


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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and BirdWatchingDaily.com. He joined the staff of BirdWatching (formerly Birder’s World) in 2000 and has worn many hats over the years: reporter, story wrangler, photo editor, managing editor, and now editor. Originally from Omaha, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Milwaukee and holds a Bachelor’s in journalism from Marquette University. You can reach Matt at (617) 706-9098 and [email protected].

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