A Secrets of Nature Educational film about the rearing of Cuckoos
Pro Patria Films Ltd present SECRETS OF NATURE.
THE HOME WRECKER produced for British Instructional Films Ltd by Edgar Chance.
Photography by E Hawkins & Oliver Pike.
Inter title: "Mr Edgar Chance prepares to make the only existing film record of the activities of the cuckoo." Two man carry a large 'Hide' across a field. It's in the shape of a haystack. They remove the lid and a third man climbs in and sits on a chair. The lid is closed and he peeps through the straw. Inter title: "The 'Hide' looks onto the Worcestershire common, where several pairs of Titlarks are happily engaged upon home building..." GV a cottage at the edge of a field. CU Titlark. "...but where, alas, a Cuckoo, newly arrived from Africa is on the lookout for nests in which to lay her eggs" "Her appearance on the common arouses terror among the Titlarks". WS birds flying frantically above the bushes. "Having decided that a Titlarks nest will make a good nursery for one of her family, the Cuckoo swoops down..." "...takes one of the Titlarks eggs in her beak, sits on the next for a few seconds to lay her egg in it's place and flies off with the stolen egg." "Slow motion photography proves beyond question how the Cuckoo introduces her egg into the nest of another bird". All shots of this are viewed from some distance. "This particular cuckoo, during five years, laid 86 eggs, easily the greatest number ever recorded. In the season during which she was filmed, her fifth and last, she laid 25 eggs at 48 hour intervals, all in different nests". WS the field as men emerge from two 'Hides'. They run towards the birds nest. CU the nest. CU a hand holding two small eggs. "In thirteen days (unlucky number!), the egg is hatched and the Titlarks adopt the interloper as their own." CU the birds inside the nest. "Not yet three days old and still blind, the young Cuckoo ejects from the nest any unhatched eggs, by working them with his wings, one at a time, into a hollow in his back and pushing them over the edge." "He next attempts to get rid of the baby Titlark's in the same manner, but is interrupted by the return of their mother". "Not realising what is happening, and apparently not alarmed at the dangerous position of her off-spring, Mother settles down contentedly." "When again alone, Master Cuckoo puts forth a mighty effort, and after an exhausting struggle, ejects his foster brothers from the nest". "The mother returns and with an amazing inability to realise what has happened to her babies and the death that speedily awaits them, feeds them for the last time." "The usurper thence-forth receives all the attention". Many more shots and titles as the cuckoo is seen being nursed, fighting and being fed from it's mother's beak
Cataloguers Note: The titles tell an interesting story but sadly footage is not of very good quality and many shots appear to be over exposed. Also much of the bird action is viewed from quite a distance, so it's hard to see what's gong on.