The beauty of birds inspires many nature photographers, spawning lots of gorgeous books, making bird study as popular indoors as out. The latest big bird book Bonnie brought home is Earth Flight: Breathtaking Photographs from a Bird's-eye View of the World by John Downer, a director and producer for BBC Earth. He spent five years producing a series called Earth Flight, which used birds imprinted on nature photographers to get spectacular videos of birds over landscapes. Earth Flight (the book) is collection of photos taken during the project.
How was this done? Downer and his crew acquired clutches of eggs from cooperative species, such as cranes and geese, and managed to have a nature photographer present at each hatching. The photographer would than be a primary caregiver raising the birds. As the birds matured, they accepted their surrogate parent flying beside them in an ultralite aircraft. The result is a body of eye-popping images from all the continents except Antarctica.
For birds not susceptible to imprinting, the BBC team created robotic birds to fly along with wild birds. According to Downer, these non-manned flying machines opened up great opportunities for the filmmakers, but also drew the unwanted attention of many wary security forces in Middle Eastern countries. The producers also mounted miniature cameras on some birds, including bald eagles in the Grand Canyon, capturing great over the shoulder pictures.
Though it is easy just to look at the pictures, read the notes in the back of the book. After the natural history pieces, there are some incredible production stories.
Downer, John. Earth Flight: Breathtaking Photographs from a Bird's-eye View of the World. Firefly Books, 2012. 239p. ISBN 9781770850392.