PBS Nature: I Simultaneously Loved And Hated It

I’m in bed watching Nature on PBS. It’s a show about migrating birds in Europe. The photography is amazing with many fly along shots.

EARTHFLIGHT invites us to see the world from a bird’s perspective with state-of-the-art technology and sophisticated camera techniques that take viewers on a breathtaking aerial adventure over six continents. It took series producer John Downer and his team four years to film more than 100 bird species in 40 different countries, capturing amazing viewpoints that have never been seen before.

If I would have watched the show on mute I would have enjoyed it more!  Much of the copy was written with anthropomorphic references.  Bird behavior was described as if the birds were human. They are not.

Birds do not experience human emotion. They don’t.

I know it’s cute to hear about birds practicing their dancing or fixing a nest to impress a late arriving spouse, but that’s just wrong. It takes what should be an educational experience unavailable until now and cheapens it.

6 thoughts on “PBS Nature: I Simultaneously Loved And Hated It”

  1. Hi Geoff,

    Although I cannot say for sure that Birds do or do not have emotions, there are many examples in the animal world that certainly suggest emotional attachment. Did you ever see the video of the dog that ran out in traffic to pull another dog that was just hit by a car to safety? Or the many examples of animals that should be predator/prey and instead end up “being friends”.

    You may be absolutely correct, but I cannot be as certain as you are considering evidence that the rest of the animal kingdom do indeed have some emotions/attachments.

    – Andre

  2. Geoff,

    I am a bird person. One of my pet birds is an African Grey who has been with me since she was 3 months old. She is now 16 years old. She is bonded with me. This is very typical of most domesticated home breed parrots. They will pick a person to attach to and thats it. Does she show emotion? Well, she talks with me. Not repeating things, she actually can ask for things or if an action occurs she will react to it. With the proper worded response. She has a massive vocabulary. She uses the correct words for the appropriate actions. Research states she has the mentality of a 3 year old. I beg to differ, she is more like a 30 year old. If you never lived with one you probably would not believe me, so no point in trying to make you understand. Turn the volume up on that show, possibly the documentary is pretty accurate. 😉

  3. Interestingly, research on those birds finds that usually neither bird in a pair is monogamous! The pair bonding enables more successful rearing of young, but when on their own each bird will mate with other available partners.

    Attitudes about the emotional life and self-consciousness of animals has been changing radically in recent times, both in the general population and among researchers. Animals are seen to plan ahead, work together, form alliances and so on, and in species considerably “below” the primates. Even among birds there is evidence of higher cognition. It is no longer possible to say unequivocally that animals (even birds) do not have emotional lives. And those emotional lives might not be all that different qualitatively.

  4. Some of these mating behaviors are instinctive, like making sure your nest looks better than everyone elses. Similar to guys dressing up for a hot date.
    Yeah animals have emotions, some more elementary than ours. But they do have them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *