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Earthflight, A NATURE Special Presentation

Airs Wednesdays, September 4-October 9, 2013 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Cape gannet flying over gannet colony, Bird Island, South Africa.

Credit: Courtesy of John Downer Productions

Above: Cape gannet flying over gannet colony, Bird Island, South Africa.

Take a breathtaking voyage with the world’s birds, soaring across six continents, witnessing spectacular animal migrations and great natural wonders, swooping down to interact with life-and-death dramas on land and at sea. This six-part miniseries employs state-of-the-art technology and sophisticated camera techniques to show the world from the amazing aerial perspective of a bird’s-eye view. After the broadcast, each episode will be available for online streaming at

It took EARTHFLIGHT series producer John Downer and his team four years to film more than 100 bird species in 40 different countries. Whether retracing the North American flight paths taken by thousands of migrating wild snow geese traveling to their Arctic breeding grounds or witnessing, for the first time, the aerobatics of devil rays as they somersault and splash back into the sea, the goal was to show the world on the wings of birds.

Filmmaker Interview

Independent producer John Downer, who started his professional life with the world-renowned BBC Natural History Unit, pioneered many of the spectacular techniques now commonplace in wildlife filmmaking. In this interview, he answered questions about the six-part mini-series, EARTHFLIGHT, which premieres September 4, 2013.

A two-hour compilation of this six-hour series, titled “Winged Planet,” aired on the Discovery Channel last October.

"North America" airs Wednesday, September 4 at 8 p.m. - Snow geese, pelicans and bald eagles fly over the Great Plains, the Grand Canyon, Alaska and the Golden Gate Bridge as they encounter and engage with bears, dolphins, bison and spawning fish.

"Africa" airs Wednesday, September 11 at 8 p.m. - Fly and arrow-dive with cape gannets among sharks, dolphins, whales and the great sardine run. Soar with fish eagles, flamingos, kelp gulls and vultures to see the most animal-packed continent with fresh eyes.

"Europe" airs Wednesday, September 18 at 8 p.m. - Cranes and geese rise over Venice, Dover, Edinburgh and the monkey-guarded Rock of Gibraltar. In Rome, the Loire Valley, Holland and Hungary, birds gather by the millions to breed and two-by-two to raise their families.

"South America" airs Wednesday, September 25 at 8 p.m. - Condors and scarlet macaws take us to the Andes and the Amazon. Giant petrels in Patagonia shadow killer whales. Hummingbirds feed at Iguazu Falls, vultures ride the thermals over Rio de Janeiro and black vultures target turtle eggs in Costa Rica.

"Asia & Australia" airs Wednesday, October 2 at 8 p.m. - Japanese cranes dance in the snow, swallows and swifts visit the Forbidden City, lorikeets, cockatoos and budgies form giant flocks in Australia, pigeons guide viewers through India, and geese fly miles above the Himalayas.

"Flying High" airs Wednesday, October 9 at 8 p.m. - A behind-the-scenes look at how EARTHFLIGHT was made, including the extraordinary relationships between people and birds. Microlights, paragliders, drones and camera-carrying birds and much more helped along the way.

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Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation - Preview

Fly over the Great Plains, Grand Canyon, and Alaska with snow geese, pelicans and bald eagles. 9/4/2013

Earthflight: Pelicans and Whales

In this scene from EARTHFLIGHT "North America," a flock of brown pelicans fly over the Pacific in search of fish. Juvenile brown pelicans, born in the warm waters of Baja California, follow their elders north, as they soar above a pod of breaching humpback whales in the waters below. (Restricted to U.S. and Territories.)

Earthflight: Cape Gannets and the Great Sardine Run

In this scene from EARTHFLIGHT "Africa," Cape gannets fly off the coast of South Africa in search of the great sardine run, the biggest fish migration in the world. The birds dive into the ocean to feast as the dolphins, also on the hunt, push the sardines toward the water’s surface. It doesn’t take long before bronze whaler sharks and bride whales join them. (Restricted to U.S. and Territories)

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