The Best Episodes of Nature

Siberian Tiger Quest

#1 - Siberian Tiger Quest

Season 31 - Episode 1

Hunted almost to extinction, the last wild Siberian tigers can only be found in the forests of the far eastern Russian frontier—but not easily. Ecologist Chris Morgan embarks on a challenge that will fulfill a lifelong dream — to find and film a Siberian tiger living wild and free in these forests. To help him, Morgan turns to Korean filmmaker Sooyong Park, the first individual ever to film Siberian tigers in the wild. Park spent more than five years watching and waiting for a glimpse of the elusive creatures, confined sometimes for months in tiny underground pits or 15-foot hides in trees. His technique was unconventional, but produced more than a thousand hours of wild tiger footage that told the story of a three-generation tiger dynasty. During their time together, Park teaches Morgan the secrets of tracking tigers—where to look and what to look for in these vast, seemingly-uninhabited frozen forests. Eventually, Morgan’s mentor and guide leaves him to his own private quest, and it is up to Morgan to follow the tracks and markings of these giant cats, searching out spots where tigers are prone to hunt, setting up cameras he hopes will also capture a precious image of a wild Siberian tiger.

Directors: Mike Birkhead
Saving Otter 501

#2 - Saving Otter 501

Season 32 - Episode 1

This is the story of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's 501st attempt to save an orphan otter. From her discovery as a stranded newborn pup crying on the beach through her rehabilitation in secret roof tanks atop the Aquarium, we follow as Otter 501 learns how to dive, hunt, eat, and fend for herself in the wild, where survival is a long shot at best.

Directors: Bob Talbot, Mark Shelley
Love in the Animal Kingdom

#3 - Love in the Animal Kingdom

Season 32 - Episode 2

Examining the ways animals attract mates. Included: the feminine wiles of a young gorilla; the search for a partner among a thousand flamingos; the "open" relationships of blue-footed boobies; and the soap opera-like entanglements of gibbons.

Directors: Mark Fletcher
Magic of the Snowy Owl

#4 - Magic of the Snowy Owl

Season 31 - Episode 2

Throughout the long months of the Arctic’s frozen winter, the sun remains below the horizon. The cold is intensified by the darkness, making life difficult, if not impossible, for all but the toughest and most experienced of animals. Snowy owls are built for the challenge, their every sense and skill honed to take on the eerie, bleak world. When the brief Arctic summer approaches, bringing light back to the tundra, snowy owls embark on an even more daunting challenge than keeping themselves alive. They breed and attempt to raise young in one of the harshest environments on the planet. Once summer arrives, they will have just 82 days of sunlight to successfully raise a family of helpless owlets until they are ready and able to fly. Documenting the degree of difficulty involved in those efforts, a team of filmmakers must face some challenges of their own as they set out to record the rarely observed daily lives of a breeding pair of snowy owls.

The Good, the Bad and the Grizzly

#5 - The Good, the Bad and the Grizzly

Season 23 - Episode 3

Yellowstone's restored grizzly-bear population and its conflicts with humans are examined, with food the force driving the bears, which have been protected as endangered species for 30 years. That's now challenged by lawmakers, while ecological changes threaten bears' food sources. Chris Cooper narrates.

Directors: Janet Hess, Shane Moore
American Eagle

#6 - American Eagle

Season 27 - Episode 3

Following their protection as an endangered species, bald eagles have come roaring back. But even in the best of times, life in the wild is a surprisingly tough struggle.

Directors: James Donald
Christmas in Yellowstone

#7 - Christmas in Yellowstone

Season 25 - Episode 3

NATURE presents a breathtaking look at wintertime deep within Yellowstone, America's first national park.

Directors: Janet Hess, Shane Moore
Parrot Confidential

#8 - Parrot Confidential

Season 32 - Episode 3

A look at the difficulties of raising parrots. The intelligent birds have a life span of 80-90 years, which means they often live longer than their owners—when their owners don't give them up after a few years, that is. They also form strong bonds with caregivers, which can result in odd behavior if a caregiver leaves for an extended period of time, as Liz and Russ Hartman learned: their bird became so upset while Russ was away on a business trip that it plucked all the feathers from its chest.

Directors: Allison Argo
Animal Odd Couples

#9 - Animal Odd Couples

Season 31 - Episode 3

Are animals capable of feeling complex emotions? Recent observations of unexpected cross-species relationships in zoos and animal sanctuaries around the world may provide some answers. Endearing interactions between a cheetah and a retriever, a lion and a coyote, a dog and a deer, a goat and a horse, and even a tortoise and a goose offer captivating glimpses of supportive connections in the animal world. Each interspecies pair challenges the conventional wisdom that humans are the only species capable of feeling compassion and forming long-lasting friendships. Animal behavior experts weigh in with their opinions, and animal caretakers share their personal experiences with cross-species relationships in this compelling tale of unlikely animal couples.

Encountering Sea Monsters

#10 - Encountering Sea Monsters

Season 24 - Episode 4

NATURE’s Encountering Sea Monsters follows Bob Cranston in his quest to film and understand the world’s most mysterious cephalopods. Imagine coming face to face with a cannibalistic creature that is as tall as you are and has long tentacles, a razor-sharp beak, and skin that flashes with bizarre, dazzling color. NATURE’s Encountering Sea Monsters does just that, as underwater cameraman Bob Cranston explores the remarkable world of marine creatures called cephalopods. Cephalopods include squids, cuttlefish, octopi, and nautili. Cranston and top marine scientists dive in waters from Indonesia and Mexico to Australia and Texas, meeting up with a variety of cephalopods — from the tiny but deadly blue-ringed octopus to the giant Humboldt squid, known for its aggressive behavior, flashing light shows, and cannibalism. Join Bob Cranston as he fearlessly reaches out and interacts with some of the ocean’s most fascinating life forms.

Directors: Sue Houghton
Kangaroo Mob

#11 - Kangaroo Mob

Season 30 - Episode 5

In the past 50 years, the eastern gray kangaroo population around Canberra, Australia’s capital city, has exploded from a few hundred to tens of thousands. Forced from the surrounding drought-stricken hills, hungry kangaroos have done their best to adapt to city life, dining on city parks and suburban lawns—though they do pay a price for their meals. Each year, thousands of kangaroos lose their lives in collisions with cars on busy roads, causing injuries and property damage of more than a million dollars in the process. Overgrazing by large numbers of kangaroos has also created stress on the environment. It’s all led to a government policy of culling, and an emotional public dispute between those who support reducing kangaroo numbers, and those who are appalled by the prospect of killing this beloved Australian icon. The government’s culling “solution” has led some Canberra residents to seek out new, innovative, and kangaroo-friendly ways to regulate the surging population. Can they be relocated, or can their numbers be controlled through forced contraception? Following the stories of several urban kangaroos, Kangaroo Mob reveals how these metropolitan marsupials manage to survive the city, and documents the ongoing debate on how best to manage them.

Directors: Steve Westh
Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem

#12 - Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem

Season 32 - Episode 6

“Honey badger is bad ass.” Those words and corresponding video became a YouTube sensation with 51 million hits. This relentless little creature is one of the most fearless animals in the world, renowned for its ability to confront grown lions, castrate charging buffalo, and shrug off the toxic defenses of stinging bees, scorpions, and snakes. Little is known about its behavior in the wild or why it is so aggressive. Our film will follow three badger specialists in South Africa who take on these masters of mayhem in ways that must be seen to be believed.

Directors: Steve Gooder
Raccoon Nation

#13 - Raccoon Nation

Season 30 - Episode 7

Are we, in an effort to outwit raccoons, actually making them smarter and unwittingly contributing to their evolutionary success? Are the ever more complex obstacles that our fast-paced urban world throws at them actually pushing the development of raccoon brains? In this film, scientists from around the world share their thoughts and work to help explore this scientific theory. Attempting to do something that has never been done before, they closely follow a family of urban raccoons as they navigate the complex world of a big city.

Directors: Susan K. Fleming
Ireland's Wild River

#14 - Ireland's Wild River

Season 32 - Episode 7

The Shannon is Ireland’s greatest geographical landmark and the longest river. It is both a barrier and highway – a silver ribbon holding back the rugged landscapes of the west from the gentler plains to the east. On its journey south, the Shannon passes through a huge palette of rural landscapes, where on little-known backwaters, Ireland’s wild animals and plants still thrive as almost nowhere else. For a year, wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson lives on the river — camping on its banks, exploring its countless tributaries in a traditional canoe, following the river from dawn to dusk through the four seasons, on a quest to film the natural history of the Shannon as it has never been seen or heard or experienced before.

Directors: John Murray
My Bionic Pet

#15 - My Bionic Pet

Season 32 - Episode 8

The animals of the world may increasingly need our help with big issues like preserving habitat or species conservation. But sometimes individual animals need our help as well. Left disabled without fins, flippers, beaks or tails because of disease, accidents or even human cruelty, these unfortunate creatures need what amounts to a miracle if they are to survive.

Cold Warriors: Wolves and Buffalo

#16 - Cold Warriors: Wolves and Buffalo

Season 31 - Episode 8

Wolves and buffalo try to get along in Canada's Wood Buffalo National Park.

Ocean Giants: Part Two - Deep Thinkers

#17 - Ocean Giants: Part Two - Deep Thinkers

Season 30 - Episode 9

Whales and dolphins conjure a deep sense of wonder in us that’s hard to explain. From the Arctic to the Amazon, this groundbreaking three-part series goes on a global expedition with world-renowned underwater cameramen, Doug Allen (Planet Earth) and Didier Noirot (Jacques Cousteau’s cameraman), as they capture spellbinding footage of these marine mammals. Ocean Giants looks at how cetaceans hunt, mate, and communicate, and follows scientists as they strive to uncover new insights about these animals. The second hour, Deep Thinkers, explores the cognitive and emotional lives of dolphins and whales. Like us, cetaceans have special brain cells, spindle cells, that are associated with communication, emotion, and heightened social sensitivity. These cells were once thought to be unique to us, but research is now showing that whales and dolphins may have up to three times more spindle cells than humans.

Directors: Anuschka Schofield
Touching the Wild

#18 - Touching the Wild

Season 32 - Episode 9

Joe Hutto’s idea of research is anything but normal, dedicating seven years of his life to becoming a wild mule deer. The herd would ordinarily run from any human but, incredibly, these keenly intelligent animals come to regard this stranger as one of their own. Accepted by the matriarch, he walks among them, is even groomed by them, and can lie with a pregnant doe talking to its unborn fawns. As he crosses the species divide Joe is tapping into a new understanding about these elusive animals, literally entering a deer society. The captivating joy he feels for his new family is nothing short of infectious, but this human predator also learns to see the world from the point of view of prey – and it’s an experience that will ultimately rock him to his very core; sharing their world so personally finally takes a toll that sends him back to his own kind.

Directors: David Allen
Moment of Impact: Part Two - Jungle

#19 - Moment of Impact: Part Two - Jungle

Season 28 - Episode 10

Teeming with creatures in every shape and form, the jungle is the most diverse habitat on the planet and home to nearly half of the world’s plant and animal species. Rising hundreds of feet from the dark depths of the tropical forest floor, through layers of twisting branch and canopy full of life – this vertical landscape pushes the limits of animal engineering. The jungle’s layers are peeled back to dissect more amazing moments of impact. Stealth and ambush reign in the jungle and survival depends on highly tuned senses and ingenious defenses. From ninja ants to flying snakes, cameras dive underwater, sail through trees and penetrate fur, feathers, skin and bone to reveal the science of some amazing animal engineering hidden deep in the jungle.

Directors: Ron Bowman
The Queen of Trees

#20 - The Queen of Trees

Season 24 - Episode 11

Patricia Clarkson narrates this look at the relationship between the sycamore fig tree and the tiny fig wasp, which is so small it could fly through the eye of a needle. The trees, which flourish in Kenya, produce fruit that provides nourishment to more wildlife than any other tree in Africa, but without the pollination the wasp provides, that might not occur. The documentary also examines other creatures that make the trees their homes, including gray hornbills (one of Africa's largest birds).

Directors: Mark Deeble, Victoria Stone
Leave It to Beavers

#21 - Leave It to Beavers

Season 32 - Episode 11

A growing number of scientists, conservationists and grass-roots environmentalists have come to regard beavers as overlooked tools when it comes to reversing the disastrous effects of global warming and world-wide water shortages. Once valued for their fur or hunted as pests, these industrious rodents are seen in a new light through the eyes of this novel assembly of beaver enthusiasts and “employers” who reveal the ways in which the presence of beavers can transform and revive landscapes. Using their skills as natural builders and brilliant hydro-engineers, beavers are being recruited to accomplish everything from finding water in a bone-dry desert to recharging water tables and coaxing life back into damaged lands.

Directors: Jari Osborne
Phantom of the Forest

#22 - Phantom of the Forest

Season 12 - Episode 12

A study of the goshawk, a bird of prey that has been restored to the Scottish woodlands after being pushed to the brink of extinction. Included: the goshawk's courtship ritual; how chicks learn to fly.

The Gathering Swarms

#23 - The Gathering Swarms

Season 32 - Episode 12

A look at some of the planet’s great gatherings, creatures that come together in inconceivable numbers – sometimes in millions, billions, and even trillions. Included are bats and bees, locust and ants, monarch butterflies in Mexico, 17-year cicada hatches, grunion in the Sea of Cortez and carp in the Mississippi River, sardine runs off the coast of South Africa, super flocks of parakeets in the Australian Outback, mayflies on the 4th of July, and even penguins and wildebeest. Some gather to breed or to migrate, some for protection, some simply to keep warm in the cold. But in the process, a kind of super-organism is created in which individual intelligence is superseded by a collective consciousness that shares information and moves with a single purpose for the benefit of all. Check out swarm intelligence, essentially a living embodiment of social media in the natural world.

Directors: John Downer
Fabulous Frogs

#24 - Fabulous Frogs

Season 32 - Episode 13

Sir David Attenborough hosts an exploration of the weird and wonderful world of frogs. Firsthand stories, the latest science and cutting-edge technology are used to demonstrate the wide variety of frog anatomy, appearance and behavior.

Directors: Sally Thomson
Bears of the Last Frontier: City of Bears

#25 - Bears of the Last Frontier: City of Bears

Season 29 - Episode 14

Chris Morgan sets up camp at a remote spot in the heart of Alaskan wilderness, alongside the largest concentration of grizzlies in the world. It is June in the Alaska Peninsula. The sun sets well into night and bears are taking advantage of the long days to feed, mate, and raise new cubs. Morgan tracks their progress as they feast on the riches of the season and re-establish the complex hierarchal social dynamics of bear society. Along the way, he experiences close encounters with bears, observing brutal battles among males during mating season as well as tender moments between a grizzly mom and her cubs.