14 Bird Movies & Documentaries (That Are Worth Watching)

Whether you are an active birder, backyard bird watcher, or just love learning about birds, you have come to the right place.

bird movies and documentaries

There are bird movies and documentaries on this list for everyone!

I included all of my favorites, from documentaries to kid’s movies to feature-length films about birds. These films & movies are perfect to combine your interest in birds along with your desire to relax. 🙂

Table of Contents: The BEST Bird Movies and Documentaries

Just one last thing:

Don’t forget the popcorn!

Feature Length Movies About Birds:

Unfortunately, not too many bird movies have appeared in theaters. Is anyone friends with Spielberg? We need him to become a birder!

Here are the bird films that I have seen and enjoyed:

#1. A Birder’s Guide to Everything 

Best Bird Films

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This is an independent film that not many people have seen or even heard about, but I highly recommend it to anyone (regardless if you’re interested in birds!).

It follows the story of teenage boys who go on a life-changing road trip in search of the Labrador Duck. It’s a great coming-of-age movie.

Interesting Fact: Kenn Kaufmann (AKA Birding Legend) was a consultant on the film and even made an appearance during the movie.

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#2. Fly Away Home

Best Bird Films

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This is a great family movie to watch together. Personally, it brings back memories of my childhood since it came out when I was a kid. Even though it is hard for me to watch Jeff Daniels in serious roles ever since he starred in “Dumb and Dumber.” 🙂

After her mom passes away, a young girl has to go live with her dad, and it’s not going well. That’s until they are forced to adopt an orphaned flock of Canada Geese.

Without their mother, the geese have no one to teach them how to migrate south for the winter. Enter the girl and her dad, who train them to follow their small ultralight airplane!

There is a lot of science behind this concept, and it was the basis for how most of “Winged Migration” (see Bird Documentary below) was filmed.

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#3. The Big Year

Best Movies About Birds

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With a cast of stars such as Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson, The Big Year is one of the most recognizable movies about birds and birding in the world.

Even though it didn’t get the best ratings from movie critics and is not the funniest comedy ever made, I think it is entertaining and a great movie to watch with your family.

It also does a great job of explaining what a “Big Year” is all about, which is the annual North American competition among birders to see who can see the most different species of birds.

This bird movie is not perfect, but it does show a glimpse into the birding community that no other film has ever explored!

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Kids Movies About Birds:

It’s never too early to start sparking an interest in your child about birds and nature. One of the best ways to grab their attention is to start playing these bird movies and cartoons in your home.

Be careful. As any parent knows, once your kid likes a movie, it has the possibility of being played dozens of times. Before you know it, you can almost recite the whole movie from memory!

Rio is a fun kids’ movie that includes lots of beautiful birds. The story follows the adventure of Blu, who is the last male Spix’s macaw and unable to fly.

The original was released in 2011 and was a box office hit. The sequel, Rio 2, was released in 2014 and was also very popular. 

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This kids movie includes my favorite bird –> Penguins!

Happy Feet was released in 2006, and I still remember going to the theater to watch it with lots of friends. Admittedly, we were probably all way too old to be at a kid’s movie, but how can you miss an animated film about penguins dancing?

It’s a fun kids’ movie. As with many films, Robin Williams steals the show as a singing Adelie Penguin.

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Owls, owls, and then more owls!!

“Legend of the Guardians” is an entertaining movie and has a darker tone than most kids’ films. However, the graphics of owls flying all over and fighting each other is a lot of fun. I enjoyed it even as an adult!

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Bird Documentaries:

This is probably my favorite section of bird films. I LOVE a great documentary or feel-good story.

These documentaries about birds should do at least one of the following; educate, inspire or entertain.

#7. The Life of Birds    

Best Bird Documentary

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Now almost 20 years old, this 10 part documentary is written and presented by the legend Sir David Attenborough. It took three years to make while visiting 42 different countries!

The entire series looks into the evolution and habits of birds, with each episode focusing on different species and their adaptations needed to survive. It is fascinating and puts most other bird documentaries to shame when it comes to learning facts and seeing birds in their natural environments.

This bird film will keep you busy for a while with almost 9 hours of content!

#8. The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill 

wild parrots of telegraph hill

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This documentary displays the bond that can develop between people and birds.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill chronicles the relationship between an unemployed musician and a flock of wild parrots (Cherry-headed Conjures and Blue-crowned Conjures).

For some reason, I didn’t have high expectations for this documentary, but I was pleasantly surprised. Highly recommended for birders and non-birders!

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#9. The Eagle Huntress

Best Bird Documentaries

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This film may be the best bird documentary you have never heard about! It follows a 13-year-old girl from Mongolia as she becomes the first female eagle hunter to compete in the Golden Eagle Festival.
After winning the festival, she heads into the mountains (in winter) with her Golden Eagle and father to hunt foxes. This is when the real test begins!
This documentary is fascinating and had me hooked from the first few moments. I loved learning about another culture and their tradition of eagle hunting. It’s entertaining and beautifully shot.
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#10. Birders: The Central Park Effect

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Birders: The Central Park Effect was filmed in Central Park (New York) and focuses on the people who watch birds throughout the park.

This documentary does a good job of showing what attracts people to birding in the first place and the weird obsession that can take place. It seems most of us birders are some combination of weird, nerdy, obsessive, fun, caring, and intelligent.

Surprisingly, the people make this bird film fun to watch, not the birds.

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#11. March of the Penguins

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This bird documentary will always hold a special place in my heart. It is the movie that helped spark my interest and admiration of penguins. 

It’s a fascinating look at the lives of Emperor Penguins and the hardships they have to go through just to survive and reproduce.

I watch it every year on World Penguin Day (April 25th) and have bourbon to celebrate.

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Produced by Disneynature, this bird documentary features the massive gatherings of Lesser Flamingos in Tanzania.

“Crimson Wing” is a real look at the life and struggle of these flamingos. Don’t be fooled that this film is associated with Disney; there are some really sad parts! For example, prepare yourself to see some cute baby flamingos struggle…

And how come hyenas always get a bad rap in Disney movies?

This bird movie is visually stunning. I think you will appreciate these pink birds a whole lot more after watching “The Crimson Wing.”

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When it comes to bird films, “Winged Migration” is probably one of the best and most well-known.

Initially released in 2003, it was filmed over four years on seven continents. Interestingly, they shot over 590 miles of film to create this 89-minute feature.

“Winged Migration” is visually stunning. The birds are interesting and shot from angles and perspectives that are incredible.

As you will see, the most impressive shots are when the birds are flying right next to the camera. “How did they do that?” was my first thought, and I immediately did research.

It turns out that humans raised those birds from chicks. They imprinted on the film crew and were trained to fly alongside small airplanes (ultralights, paragliders).

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#14. Nature (PBS TV series)

Bird Movies, Bird Films, Bird Documentaries

Since 1982, the producers of Nature have been putting out quality wildlife documentaries about all sorts of animals, including birds.

Nature currently airs every Wednesday on PBS in the United States but appears in syndication in Canada and on the Discovery Channel.

With hundreds of episodes over the years, Nature has educated the public about the diversity of life from all across the globe.

Here is a list of some of my favorite documentaries that feature birds from Nature: 

I hope you were able to find something new to watch.

But honestly, it was pretty hard coming up with this list.

Please help!

What did I miss? What is your favorite movie about birds? Do you have a favorite bird documentary?

Let us know below in the Comments section.

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  1. hi,感谢您分享这么棒的清单,我是一名中国的儿童教育者,想要为孩子们展示鸟类有关的知识,从您的清单中我获得了有效的信息,感谢您的付出。

  2. Great list, Scott! If there’s one more that really deserves to be among the best, it’s Hummingbirds: Jewelled Messengers by David Attenborough. Probably the best ever documentary made about the fascinating lives of these most aerobatic bird species of all times. There are many, many more to add to a comprehensive movie collection, but your top 20 is a good number for reference! Thank you for keeping us informed and entertained!

  3. Great list.

    I second Winged Migration. The soundtrack of Brulo Coulais and the Bulgarka Junior Quartet makes the scenes transcendent. The DVD extras go into detail about the imprinting, which could be a whole other movie.

  4. I enjoy and love feeding, and watching birds. Is there any place to get individual calls of birds. I had a pileated woodpecker show up in my back yard last year and would like to get see if it would show up again with a recording. I have stellar jays off and on. Of course chickadees, goldfinches and pinesiskins, plus a lot of different finches. Last year I had oriels and tanagers and they ate suet cakes and never had anything to with the liquid feeders I put up for them. My feeders are just outside of my front windows and also on the back deck. I do make my own suet cakes but always have the premade one’s on hand for a back up. I buy good bird seed in 50# bags and have drove 160 miles round trip for millet when I find it. I have tried goggling to find a recording but at 86 years old and not really good with a PC I decided to check with you.

  5. Kudos on a fabulous email of random lists, you did great, Scott! I’m a birdwatching novice and have learned so much from all you have to offer. Plus this one made me laugh out loud several times and kept me waiting to see if Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds would appear (yikes!) …

  6. I believe it was named “Bill and Coo”. I remember seeing it as a child in the 50’s also. Since I owned a budgie at the time, I loved the movie.

  7. Dancingwith the birds on Netflix, mainly about Birds of Paradise. A delightful documentary!!!

  8. Did you ever see Rare Birds with William Hurt? It’s somewhat related to birding but not the main plot. It’s pretty entertaining though!

  9. I have been looking for those same films. There were several black and white ones that featured different birds as well as pigeons. The only one I could find any reference to was Bill and Coo (1948) but it was filmed in color.

    1. Hi Martin, Just saw your reply (3 1/2 years later). Thank you so much! Of course we only had b&w tv in the 50s. Maybe it was Bill & Coo, which is available on youtube. This is the first lead I’ve had in decades! Thank you again.

  10. There was a movie that featured all pigeons, given a plot where they played the various roles. It is in black and white and must have been made in the 1940s. I saw it on tv as a child in the mid-50s. Would very much like to see it again. Do you by chance happen to have any information about this movie?

  11. Hi Scott, and thanks v much for your website, which we enjoy very much.

    You asked about favourite bird documentaries and I wondered if you have seen the 2019 Secret Migrations series? It has episodes on Eleonara’s Falcon and the Black-cap Warbler. There are also episodes on the Painted Lady butterfly and Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Bat.

    “Eleonora’s Falcon. Every year, just above our heads, Eleonora’s falcon undertakes a mysterious migration. This discreet journey covers thousands of kilometres and triggers puzzles that scientists are still trying to understand today. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, we will track the falcons on their journey”.

    Hope you haven’t seen them yet!

    All the best