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Attenborough's Big Birds
E6 of 10
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The emu is a devoted dad. He incubates eggs from his mate by sitting on the nest for eight weeks in the Australian sun, without food or drink. Then when the young hatch he looks after the “stripeys” for six months or so, defending them from predators and sheltering them under his feathers at night. It’s a touching picture, particularly when we gather that many of the chicks may not in fact be his: emus are far from monogamous.
It’s just one of the vignettes of bird life painted by David Attenborough in his survey of “ratites” – the family of flightless birds that include ostriches, kiwis and cassowaries. They are, says Attenborough, “the court jesters of the avian world”.
Meet the big birds, a feathered family who've never flown a day in their lives. From ostriches to kiwis, these bizarre birds appear to be nature's greatest novelty act. How they came to be and how they continue to survive is a fascinating tale that has long captivated David Attenborough. In this programme, he tells a story of dedicated dads, enormous eggs and a serious need for speed. And far from being the court jesters of the animal world, these flightless curiosities once nearly ruled the planet.
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