Flight: The Genius of Birds (Media Review)
by Greg West*
It’s no wonder that bird watching has been a popular hobby for centuries as birds are among the most fascinating and observable creatures in the animal kingdom. Without them, I seriously doubt that man would have had the imagination to even attempt flight. With, Flight: The Genius of Birds, Illustra Media continues its tradition of excellence in intelligent design inspired videos. If you’ve seen their previous production, the outstanding, Metamorphosis: The Beauty and Design of Butterflies, then you already have an idea of what you’re in for and that it will be a highly enjoyable and educational ride.
The film begins where the life of birds begins—with an up-close look at the egg and how a chick begins to develop. Amazingly enough, we can observe a recognizable chick growing inside of an egg in as little as forty-eight hours. With intermittent commentary from biologists and other experts such as wildlife photographers, the film continues to look at other amazing and unique features of birds such as their skeletal and muscular system, both of which are mind boggling.
After our introduction to bird anatomy and biology, the film goes deeper by focusing on three particular species of birds. Each of these segments are equally fascinating and emotionally moving. The first of these segments is on the evolution defying humming bird, which itself is unique among birds. With the ability to hover or fly in any direction, the humming bird’s wings flap up to one hundred time per second (yes, you read that right) and its heart beats at a rate of one thousand beats per minute. Even its tongue is a marvel to behold, which in a 20th of a second, once it penetrates the liquid nectar within a flower, splits, unfolds, scoops up the nectar, refolds, and retracts into the birds beak supplying it with the food it needs to supply the energy for its hyperactive lifestyle. The humming bird eats more than twice its weight in food a day—the equivalent of 150lbs of food a day for the average adult human. With a metabolism like that and all that crazy exercise, it’s no wonder I’ve never seen a fat humming bird!
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The film then examines the amazing mass group navigation of the European Starling. I have to admit that I never considered starlings to be particularly amazing or beautiful before, but this part of the film was nothing less than breathtaking and was my favorite part of the film. The nature filmmaker featured in this segment, who travels the world filming exotic animals, said that these starlings were his favorite animals to film—and a mere three miles from his backyard in England. The sight of over a quarter of a million starlings flying and darting to and fro in close quarters without even one areal mishap is truly an amazing sight! From a short distance they appear as a great black cloud that has a mind of its own.
The last specific bird the film shows us is the Arctic Tern, which are true world travelers. With the longest migration of any animal known, these birds migrate from the north pole to the south pole and back again every year. Bilbo Baggins—eat your heart out! These birds travel so far in one life time as to be the equivalent distance of traveling to the moon and back three times.
The film then goes on to demonstrate how naturalistic explanations for the complexity of birds fall far short of being any explanation at all, and that naturalists, by their own admission, must constantly keep reminding themselves that what they observe in nature is not design, but the result of blind chance. To hit the point home, the film returns to bird anatomy—the feather! Any given single feather can have over 1,000,000 individual parts, and different feathers in different locations on the birds body and wings serve different functions in flight navigation, as demonstrated by a goose coming in for a perfect landing on a lake—showing how the complexity of a bird in flight makes even our most sophisticated modern aircraft seem clumsy by comparison.
If you’re familiar with other films produced by Illustra Media, you should know that they just keep getting better and better at what they do. I highly recommend this film for small group viewing, watching individually or as a family, and for teaching your kids about evolution and intelligent design. AI not only highly recommend this title, but also their previous release, Metamorposis, and other title from their intelligent design collection!
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*I received a free promotional copy of this title and am under no obligation to give a favorable review.