This film is part of Free

The Magic Box

A young girl takes on the Desmond Morris (or perhaps Johnny Morris) role for this enchanting film of a family birdwatching in their back garden.

Home movie 1965 6 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


In the mid-sixties, before the days of Springwatch, an enterprising Wakefield family, the Brears, have set up their own birdwatch, making a bird box and filming the baby blue tits inside that have made it their home. With great patience they sit and observe the behaviour of one of Britain’s favourite garden birds.

Norma and Doug Brear FACI are members of the Wakefield Cine Club. They have made many films since they started filming in 1960, putting on film shows in both Wakefield and Bradford. The film was possibly inspired by the Granada TV series Zoo Time, or its rival, the popular BBC children's series Animal Magic, with Johnny Morris. Interestingly, the first known bird watcher using a telescope was a man from Wakefield, Charles Waterton, who created his wildlife Walton Hall Estate in the 1820s, and also created the first manmade nest boxes put up simply for encouraging local birds and observing them raise their young. Nest boxes now play an essential role for helping to repopulate areas with declining species.