blue bird from animated film

Fly, Fly Away | Watch 5 Animated Shorts Starring Birds

Films

Large or small, of modest or exuberant plumage, birds are endlessly fascinating creatures. They possess that magical ability: flight, and their wee hearts continually move them to sing, as the Chinese proverb goes, not because they have an answer, but simply because they have a song.

Celebrate and admire these fine feathered friends with 5 excellent animated short films starring birds.

Fine Feathers

We begin our tour of the skies with Evelyn Lambart’s first “solo” film without Norman McLaren, Fine Feathers. Here, the First Lady of Canadian Animation displays her exquisite paper cutout technique and storytelling skills to animate the story of two winged creatures – a blue jay and a loon –  who learn a few things about the hazards of trying to be something you’re not. (Just love yourself, birds!)

Fine Feathers, Evelyn Lambart, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Enjoyed that? See also Lambart’s The Hoarder and Paradise Lost, two more shorts starring birds.

Paradise

Ishu Patel is a magician and this bird-filled film, a true thing of beauty. Evocative and vibrant, Paradise tells the story of a homely blackbird who covets the plush existence of the Emperor’s majestic caged bird. But who’s got the better deal, in reality? Is anything more worthwhile than freedom? This gem was nominated for an Oscar in 1984.

Paradise, Ishu Patel, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

The Owl and the Raven: An Eskimo Legend

How did the raven come to be jet-black? Let Co Hoedeman break it down for you, in splendid sealskin puppet stop-motion. No spoilers, but let us just say it involves an Inuit bone game and a simple pair of kamiks (sealskin boots) that end up having fairly extreme repercussions.

Owl and the Raven: An Eskimo Legend, Co Hoedeman, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Enjoyed that? Check out The Owl and the Lemming: An Eskimo Legend, which details our friend Owl’s failure at hunting (and keeping his wife happy.)

Peep and the Big Wide World

This one is for the younger bird lovers among us. Intended for children aged 3-5, this film brings together three 10-minute episodes of Kaj Pindal’s acclaimed cartoon Peep and the Big Wide World, narrated by Sir Peter Ustinov. Hop along for a series of wild adventures with Peep the chicken, Chirp the robin, and Quack the duck. A fan of Peep? Watch The Peep Show, an early version of the same cartoon.

Peep and the Big Wide World, Kaj Pindal, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

The Boy and the Snow Goose

One of the nicest things about birds is how free they are. They come and go as they please, at home in the endless sky. In this short, a friendship between a boy and a snow goose is tested when when the bird obeys the flock’s call to fly south. Will the friendship endure?

As it is said, if you love something, set it free.

The Boy and the Snow Goose, Gayle Thomas, provided by the National Film Board of Canada