The Northern Bald Ibis


It’s a crazy story, featuring the rarest bird in Europe. It’s the quirky looking, crested northern bald ibis, which has established a breeding colony in the Bavarian town of Burghausen. It tastes good and is easy to catch – two qualities that proved to be its downfall 400 years ago. It was wiped out in Europe and survived only in zoos. Nowadays nature conservationists in Bavaria and Austria are hoping to re-establish this ibis species along the Alps. There’s just one problem: migratory birds raised in zoos have never learned to fly over the mountains to their winter quarters in Italy.

Filmmaker Herbert Ostwald accompanied these other-worldly birds for twelve months, from Germany to Italy. And for the first time it was possible to fit a camera on the back of a northern bald ibis.


Written and directed by Herbert Ostwald // Camera: Erik Sick // Additional footage: Roland Wagner // Sound: Martin Radtki, Marcel Lepel, Wilmont Schulze // Editor: Isabelle Albert // Music: Mark Joggerst // Colour correction: Dany Schelby // Sound mix: Alexander Weuffen // Narrator: Yvon Jansen // Production manager: Katja Sträter // Executive producers: Thomas Weidenbach, Sarah Zierul // Commissioning editors: Ulrike Lovett (BR), Katja Ferwagner (BR-Arte) // Direction: Christine Peters // With the assistance of Katharina Neugebauer, Daniela Trobe, Lynn Hafner, Frederik Amann, Bernhard Gönner, Stephan Hahnel, Sven Eilers, Johannes Fritz // Produced by Längengrad Filmproduktion for BR in collaboration with Arte

  • YEAR 2022
  • LENGTH 45 / 52 min