Birds on Film


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Birds on Film

  • I've been wondering for a while, whether to start a thread dedicated to birds appearing in films and TV dramas - what they bring to the production, and also whether the film makers have made appropriate choices. I have lost count of the number of times I've seen Harris Hawks in medieval dramas!

    I was reminded of this again by a short scene in last week's Poldark, which has now appeared online:


    This is quite clever - one of the Poldark novels is called "the Four Swans" and the conversation about whether "swans mate for life" is clearly a roundabout way of referring to Demelza's recent fling with Hugh Armitage. 

    However, Bewick's swans were perhaps not the most obvious choice? The episode takes place in late summer/early autumn, as ripe blackberries also featured at one point.  

  • Harris Hawks are certainly popular on TV, I assume because many falconers have them, although I don't know if that's for legal reasons or because they are considered easier or more reliable to train. Not familiar with Poldark or where/when it was filmed for it to have Bewick's but it would be strange for Blackberries to still be in fruit.

  • Nigel

    Poldark is mostly set in Cornwall. I guess one has to assume that Armitage's uncle, Lord Falmouth, who owns the house, has a collection of wildfowl with clipped wings. 

    The issue with Harris Hawks is to do with when they were first brought to Europe and used for falconry. This can't possibly have been before 1498, when Columbus first explored the coast of South America (modern day Venezuela) and may well have been some time later. I think they are considered easier to train - at least less difficult than other birds of prey.