6 More Nature Documentaries to Stream Tonight

Wildlife

A burrowing owl. © ben jiang/TNC Photo Contest 2019

The pandemic is forcing us to find creative ways to stay connected to nature: starting a backyard bird yard list, nature journaling, curling up with a good book, and even watching fish (yes, fish).

But at the end of a long, stressful day, nothing beats a good nature documentary.

Last year, we rounded up the best nature documentaries for you to binge-watch during lockdown. Since you’ve probably finished those, here are six more documentaries to help you unwind, disconnect, and bring a little nature into your life.

(Note: Most of these films are available on popular streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo, iTunes, or Amazon. Exactly which service depends on your location.)

  • Dancing With The Birds

    2019 | Netflix

    There’s no shortage of dance moves in the bird world: they shimmy, they shake, they bob and they wiggle. Some gyrate like demented matadors, others mimic chainsaws and children. But they’re all fabulous.

    Brought to you by the same team that produced Our Planet,Dancing With The Birds showcases some of the strangest bird courtship rituals from around the world, with a special focus on New Guinea’s birds of paradise. Narrated by the wry and wonderful Stephen Fry, this documentary will leave you smiling after a long day.

  • My Octopus Teacher

    2020 | Netflix

    In the wake of a breakdown, South African filmmaker Craig Foster turns to daily swims in the freezing ocean to help cope. He encounters a curious common octopus, and over the course of several months the two form an unlikely bond. Foster becomes ever-more obsessed with the cephalopod’s world, mapping her entire ecosystem in an effort to locate her den and watching as she fends off predatory sharks.

    Skeptics in the audience might raise an eyebrow at the idea of ‘friendship’ with an octopus. But Foster doesn’t anthropomorphize, he merely gives the octopus the respect she is due as an intelligent, interesting creature. Along the way, we learn how their relationship changes Foster’s perspective on life and pulls him back from despair. The resulting film is deeply personal and well-worth the hype.

  • A Life On Our Planet

    2020 | Netflix

    David Attenborough is a nature documentary demigod — the man could narrate drying paint and I’d still be on the edge of my seat. Yet he’s become so ubiquitous that we forget the value of his perspective. Attenborough is 93 years old and has spent the majority of those years traveling the world and witnessing its wonders. Few people alive have seen the same depth and breadth of nature.

    A Life On Our Planet is Attenborough’s swan song, or as he describes it, his “witness statement.” Attenborough is at his best: thoughtful, concise, elegant, revenant, and blunt about the devastating mankind is inflicting on our world. It’s also sad, both because it reminds us of what we have wrought, and because it foreshadows another loss that we’ll all soon face — that of Attenborough himself.

  • Islands of Faith (Semesta)

    2019 | Netflix

    What role can religion play in protecting nature? The answers to that question are as diverse as religion itself.Islands of Faith follows seven different Indonesian communities as they try to harness the power of religion to combat climate change. Hindus, Muslims, Catholics, and followers of indigenous religions all worship differently, but they’re united in their desire to protect the natural world.

    If you’re interested in the intersection of environmentalism and religion — or if you’re a stir-crazy traveler stuck in lockdown — this is the film for you.

  • Tiny Creatures

    2020 | Netflix

    Megafauna are the bread and butter of wildlife television: Lions hunting gazelle, whales breaching in the blue sea, tigers stalking the mangroves. But what about the world’s tiny creatures?

    This charming documentary focuses on the overlooked littles, from caterpillars to flying squirrels, to rattlesnakes and owls. (And don’t worry, there’s still plenty of suspenseful predator-and-prey action, albeit pint-sized.)

  • Night on Earth: Shot in the Dark

    2020 | Netflix

    © Nick Hall

    On our last doco roundup, we highlighted Netflix’s mesmerizing Night On Earth series. The six-part series uses low-light and thermal imaging technology to reveal what happens in nature under the cover of darkness.

    If, like me, you immediately binge-watched the show and were left craving more, you’re in luck. The production team released a special behind-the-scenes episode called Night On Earth: Shot in the Dark. The hour-long episode reveals the technology, planning, and endurance behind the series’ incredible footage.

Justine E. Hausheer

Justine E. Hausheer is an award-winning science writer for The Nature Conservancy, covering the innovative research conducted by the Conservancy’s scientists in the Asia Pacific region. She has a degree from Princeton University and a master’s in Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting from New York University. Justine’s favorite stories take her into pristine forests, desolate deserts, or far-flung islands to report on field research as it’s happening. When not writing, you can find her traipsing after birds, attempting to fish, and exploring the wild places around her home in Brisbane, Australia. More from Justine

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