Look to the skies and you will feel it - a deep, univeral facination with flight. A facination with birds. There are legions of bird-watchers all across the world, but for some watching is not enough. In the sport of falconry for example, man and bird hunt together. Birds are creatures of many meanings, in India they are a sign of hope - messengers from heaven. Birds are also killers but these skills also help defend our farms from rodents. Birds have a long history of service to mankind, but sometimes it's the relationships we have with them that matters most. Some say parrots pick their friends. They're very intelligent and sensitive, communicating with body language.

The gift of flight would seem reason enough for humanity"s fascination with birds. But there"s even more to it than that. Birds are remarkable for a wide range of exceptional physical abilities, for their indications of intelligence, and — for some species — their surprising level of rapport with humans.

In the small Indian village of Kundha Kulam, for example, birds" arrival are a sign to the townspeople that rain will follow and that their crops would soon thrive. While falconry — the art of training hawks, falcons and other birds of prey to hunt — exemplifies the partnership men and birds can develop.

Humans have also relied on the more prosaic pigeon. Although city dwellers may dismiss them as flying rats, no bird can top the pigeon for courage and service to humankind. Since pigeons have the ability to find their way “home,” many were used in dangerous, top-secret missions in World War I and II, delivering important messages to Allied troops behind enemy lines.

Discover more amazing birds — from hummingbirds and peregrine falcons to parrots and barn owls — on NATURE"s Extraordinary Birds.

Film Duration: 53 mi