The Wild America Series

Own the Entire Series now
Buy Single Years of the Series below

Year One

Where, when and how can the average viewer watch North America’s wild creatures in their natural surroundings? The answers are here in this fact-filled program. Also examined are the many reasons why we seek out wildlife. From majestic Elk herds in Yellowstone to songbirds at the feeder, watching wild creatures provides a great opportunity for learning.
Haunting beauty and mystery characterize our southern swamps. They teem with an amazing — and amusing — variety of creatures. Where land meets water is the richest nursery of life. Alligators lurk as they have since prehistoric times, an Anhinga swims underwater and spears its meal. In the heart of the swamp, an astounding fish changes its color and pattern in seconds.
The domestic Dog has won affection granted no other animal. Surprisingly, “our best friend” closely resembles its wild cousins — the Wolf, Coyote and Fox — the most misunderstood and feared family of animals in North America. Today, we are fascinated by the social behavior of the Wild Dogs and are beginning to appreciate their roles as “Top Dogs” in various natural ecosystems.
Alpine animals are truly the kings of survival. In order to survive in a severe and unpredictable habitat, all have adapted in special ways. A revealing time-lapse shows the development of Golden Eagle chicks. Also presented are the four Wild Sheep — the Dall, Stone, Mountain and Desert Bighorn — as they fight their everyday battle to endure and perform their ancient rituals of courtship.
The Grizzly Bear is funny and ferocious, a quivering coward and a daring hero, easily tamed yet forever wild. This disappearing giant is one of the most contradictory and complex of all our animal ideas. In this program, the entire spectrum of our attitudes toward the Grizzly are examined as well as the animal itself. Rare footage reveals the birth of tiny cubs during the female’s winter denning.
This exploration of wildlife’s struggle for survival presents many Endangered Mammals, Birds and Fishes that have never been filmed before. Some are large and impressive — others small and overlooked. Seen are interviews with four prominent biologists, each an expert on a particular Endangered Species. Without our concern, many of these rare animals will never be filmed again.
A band of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep is observed through the seasons. When springtime splashes the mountain meadows with color, a lamb is born and an old ram, the band’s leader, dies. And so the cycle of life is completed. Portrayed are the mating battles of the huge rams, the seasonal migrations of the herd, and the never-ending search for food in the high mountains.
Witness the wondrous birth of tiny twin Deer fawns, and see wide-eyed Wolf pups emerge from their den. Both the Deer and the Wolf are followed through their age of innocence into maturity, when — finally — during a winter hunt, both the young Deer and the young Wolf assume their traditional adult roles as predator and prey. We see that each one is half of a beautiful natural whole.
As the dominant species, we are finally starting to realize our impact on the world and to re-evaluate our relationship with all living things. This program illustrates how we can best preserve our precious natural heritage of wildlife. Wild animals affect us in many ways — for recreation, we admire their freedom; for economics, we harvest their bounty; and for science, we explore their mysteries.
Childhood is the age of delight and discovery for wild animals. Lively baby Skunks, Flying Squirrels, Owls, Black Bears, Raccoons and other wild youngsters learn life-saving skills — and have fun — growing up in the wilderness. A nocturnal sequence shows the complete life cycle of a Toad, from embryo to “toadlet.” Also seen is the playful springtime cavorting of Mountain Goat kids.


Year Two

The strangest features of some creatures are the very elements which have allowed them to survive. Claymation of prehistoric species shows the ways in which odd shapes evolved into forms we know today. The Musk Ox’s circle dance and the Armadillo’s shell game are explained. Also seen are the one-in-a-million white Moose, and the confused courtship of a prairie Grouse hybrid.

What animal is the fastest in North America? What animal is best known — inaccurately — as an Antelope? What animal, less than a week after it is born, can race across the prairie at 40 miles per hour? It is the Pronghorn of our vast western prairies and it is born to run! Of all America’s hooved Mammals, this fascinating creature is the only one to originate on this continent.

The Owl’s incredible sight and hearing are second to none in the animal world, and its ability to fly with utter soundlessness is nothing short of remarkable. Its life history is endlessly intriguing. The eighteen species of North American Owls are creatures of mystery. Owls are undisputed champions of the Birds of Prey. They reign — as they have for ages — lords of darkness.

Many thousands of these intelligent creatures roam the woods from Georgia to California. Some, bristling Boars with huge tusks, were imported from Europe and released as formidable hunting adversaries. Others are escaped barnyard swine. Only one is native — the Peccary of our southwestern deserts. This program explores the funny, bizarre, violent world of the Wild Hog.

The Deer Family is best known for its headgear — its beautifully shaped antlers. Their kingdom includes the lovely Whitetail, Mule and Key Deer, the nomadic Barren-Ground and Woodland Caribou, the majestic Moose and the elegant Elk. All are exquisitely adapted to escape from predators. We explore their essential roles in a variety of ecosystems from Florida to Alaska.

America’s Birds come in all shapes and sizes, and they range from homely to breathtaking. But they share one thing in common — the awesome power of flight. The airborne freedom which sets Birds apart from other creatures has been envied by man for centuries. All the diverse Bird types are seen — powerful predators, melodious songbirds, and graceful water birds.

We all know domestic Cats. We’ve seen them savagely attack a ball of yarn, contentedly purr on our lap, and instinctively sharpen their claws, probably on our finest furniture. Yet we rarely see their wild cousins, the most elusive of all animals… and the most deadly. This program explores the Jaguar, Mountain Lion, Lynx, Bobcat, Margay, Ocelot, and Jaguarundi.

Marty Stouffer is studying wildlife in a remote Colorado wilderness. One spring day, he comes across the tracks of a Grizzly Bear — thought to be extinct in the state — and he follows and meets face-to-face with a magnificent male Grizzly. Excited by his discovery, Marty adopts a female Grizzly cub from a zoo. He and Griz share a cabin as Marty teaches her how to survive.

Over the summer, the adventurous cub encounters many other creatures, among them a hungry Cougar. As winter approaches, Marty digs a den for Griz, and while she sleeps, he goes off to observe wildlife which does not hibernate. In April, Griz emerges from her den, and must learn one last lesson — to fear humans, even Marty. This separates man and bear forever.

Some wild animals have not only survived our progress, but are actually thriving within numerous urban areas. Raccoons, Deer, Coyotes, Skunks, and a wide variety of Birds are adapting to a world shared increasingly with humans. Backyard wildlife is a never-ending joy for wildlife watchers. Also included in this program are tips for attracting creatures to your own backyard.


Year Three

North America hosts a striking and varied panorama of wild creatures found nowhere else on earth. Some of them have ancient claims to being original citizens, while others are recent imports. All are fascinating and are found in every corner of the country. A rare film sequence captures several aspects of America’s only Marsupial — mating behavior, birth and development of the Opossum.

The fifteen species of Hummingbirds that nest north of Mexico are exquisitely beautiful in their multi-colored iridescence. All are unique to the New World. European explorers were astounded by these tiny, glittering birds that zipped up and down, backwards and sideways, with wings humming and blurred. Here they are seen as never before, and we savor every last little wingbeat.

Closely related to the Giant Panda, with a dexterity almost human, the Raccoon, Ringtail and Coatimundi each combine in a special way the features of several other animals. Using their bushy tails for balance, and their paws as clever tools, they are Fox-like, Cat-like and Monkey-like all at once. Each is different, yet each is very intelligent and amusingly adapted.

The silent grandeur of Monument Valley, the ragged chasms of the Grand Canyon, the magnificent sandstone arches of Utah... these spectacular landscapes exert a powerful influence on the wild creatures that live within their realms. Cooper’s Hawk, Rattlesnake, Mountain Lion and Gray Fox — living things are fewer and further between in these vast spaces, but they are all interconnected.

Is this beast really a ravenous monster? The Wolverine is a rarely-glimpsed, and thus much misunderstood, scavenger with tremendous strength. It is the source of many legends. The Indians regarded it as a supernatural being. Here we see the real Wolverine in the rugged land it shares with Wolf, Red Fox and Snowshoe Hare — and we learn why this wandering loner deserves our respect.

A “Fish” is such a standard shape that we seldom think how ancient, yet how perfectly modern, is this superbly successful design. Here we see its most incredible variations, from the largest “living fossils” — huge, prehistoric Alligator Gar — to the smallest — the dazzlingly colorful Darters. This underwater exploration leaves us marvelling at their adaptations.

From the first — and smallest — Refuge, created on Florida’s 3-acre Pelican Island in 1902, to the 8,900,000 acres of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, our Refuge system is unmatched by any in the world. In areas from Maine to Arizona, millions of pristine acres have been set aside for native wildlife. We explore these Refuges, as well as many of the creatures that inhabit them.

The slender, luxuriously-furred Fisher is misnamed — it does not catch fish. Cat-sized members of the Weasel family, Fishers are rare, energetic and playful — but out of place in anyone’s home! This fun-loving story shows how an orphaned pair of these frisky predators were rescued by Marty Stouffer and adopted by his family. They grow up with Marty and Diane’s daughter Hannah.

The growing Fishers need to learn how to survive on their own before they can be released into the forest. Marty takes them on regular trips into the mountains that will some day be their home — each time they go deeper into the wilderness. But the curious Fishers would rather explore and meet new wild friends — like a Black Bear, Skunk and Mule Deer — than continue their education.

How did a young wildlife-lover get started making motion pictures of his favorite subject? How does Marty Stouffer film the amazing, yet difficult — and often dangerous — scenes for WILD AMERICA? Viewers are invited to learn the secrets of wildlife cinematography — to share the frustration of failure and the exhilaration of success — as the behind-the-scenes story is revealed.


Year Four

The ancients believed these Birds were gods that could bring forth rain by tapping their bills. Woodpeckers cannot perform miracles, but they do know how to use their heads. Special adaptations enable them to whack away at tree trunks with extraordinary force in their quest for food and shelter. This high-powered hammering also benefits humans by destroying Insect pests.

Wild creatures have evolved a variety of fascinating means for discouraging predators. Some of these methods of protection, such as the Porcupine’s quills, are built right into the animal’s anatomy. Other devices, like the ability of the Opossum to “play dead”, are behavioral. Survival usually depends on a complex set of interactions between predator and prey.

Yellowstone Lake has a vast underwater wilderness never seen by the two million annual visitors to this National Park. It is also the realm of a creature that forms the cornerstone of an entire aquatic ecosystem — the brilliant Cutthroat Trout. A summer-long exploration by Marty Stouffer and crew begins in the remote Thorofare Region, our wildest land south of Alaska.

The crew’s exploration takes them deeper into the northern wilderness along the magnificent Yellowstone River. At LeHardy Rapids, Marty catches slippery Cutthroat to study them face-to-face, then dives into the turbulence to hand-feed a large school of Trout with Salmonfly larvae. Back on the surface, we examine the reproductive cycle and all the other primary predators of the Salmonfly.

As Marty and his crew continue to delve into the life cycle of the Cutthroat Trout, their exploration leads to Grizzly Creek. Here, Marty finds evidence of the big Bears’ presence and goes underwater to film the spawning ritual of the Cutthroat. In a fitting finale, some Trout die, as others return to the Lake. As the adventure ends, we’re left with deeper feeling for all life.

Through the night, a ravenous predator stalks its unwary prey. With a swift bite to the skull, it slays the victim, then throws back its head and howls. But this beast that hunts like a Weasel and howls like a Wolf is neither — it’s the five-inch Grasshopper Mouse of our western deserts and plains. It feasts on Tarantulas, Scorpions, and even other Rodents — yet displays close family ties.

“Prairie Wolf, Song Dog, Barking Wolf” — the Coyote is called by many names, not always complimentary. Once they trailed the great herds across our western plains. The herds are gone. The opportunists remain, and are flourishing despite efforts to eradicate them. Today, their numbers are stronger than ever, but this proof of their versatility only heightens the controversy.

Until 65 million years ago, giant Reptiles ruled the Earth. Dinosaurs have disappeared, but their multitude of descendants thrive in practically every kind of habitat North America offers. Masses of emerging Garter Snakes writhe in Manitoba’s Snake Pits. And from southern swamps resounds the primeval bellow of the Alligator, echoing an era millions of years before man.

Since many wild animals are nocturnal — and all are wary of humans — they’re often difficult to glimpse. But every creature leaves behind signs of its passing. Curiosity, patience and a good field guide are the only equipment needed to learn to read this revealing record. Marty Stouffer offers valuable tips on tracking and getting close to Foxes, Moose, Bears, and Birds.

Elegant and graceful, the Lynx is one of Nature’s finest physical specimens. Its primary quarry is the elusive Snowshoe Hare. It is seen that the numbers of predator and prey — Lynx and Snowshoe Hare — are intricately linked in a ten-year cycle that rises and falls in unison. This fascinating, unexplained phenomenon is only one of many mysteries in the Great North Woods.


Year Five

The White-tailed Deer is our most familiar large Mammal — and our number one big-game animal. In states like Pennsylvania, its popularity makes it one of the most controversial creatures. The abundance of Whitetail here proves that certain wildlife can thrive in man’s world. In following this lovely Deer, we learn how it now epitomizes the history of game management.

Two of the world’s most beautiful ducks are North American natives. The Wood Duck, or “Woody,” dabbles on plant life. The Hooded Merganser, or “Hoody”, dives for fish. Differences in lifestyles lead to amusing events when female Woodies and Hoodies lay eggs in each other’s nests. We watch as a mother Woody at Iroquois Wildlife Refuge tries to raise a mixed brood.

In a confrontation with a Rattlesnake, this snake will win. Unharmed because it is immune to the venom, it swallows its victim whole. This amazing serpent is the Kingsnake. Reigning monarch among Reptiles, it is a world-class beauty, with a medley of patterns and colors. We see combat, mating, egg-hatching and feeding behavior in several kinds of Kingsnakes.

Is there a peaceable kingdom? Not really. Wild animals have “sibling rivalries” just like humans. Ironically, related species compete more frequently, and more intensely, than do non-related species. These family conflicts can be fatal when it comes to the crucial concerns of food, territory, or affection... and it’s not always the larger or more powerful “cousin” which wins the competition!

Each summer, as Salmon make their spawning run, a gathering of the largest carnivores in North America also takes place. Up to a hundred huge Brown Bears line up along the McNeil River in Alaska. Each Bear stakes out and defends its fishing territory. The cast of characters includes sows with playful cubs, battle-scarred boars, and juveniles, with comical fishing styles.

Texas is big! It’s also wild and incredibly varied. In this state, there are at least six dramatically different life zones — desert mountains, flat grasslands, hill and brush country, piney woods and swamplands. For viewers accustomed to seeing the Lone Star State as a land of livestock and oil wells, this look at little-known wild areas promises many surprises.

Two hundred years ago, unbroken prairie stretched over 1000 miles of America’s heartland. Today, little remains of that vast expanse, where not only Deer and Antelope, but also Elk, Bison, Bears and Wolves, once roamed. Can we afford to protect a portion of our remaining National Grassland heritage, or must all of our birthright disappear under the plows of progress?

Most predators and prey have evolved in unison. They are so closely matched that every day is an “Animal Olympics.” Intimately linked together are two birds — the speedy Goshawk and the alert Ruffed Grouse. Many predators pursue the Grouse, but none is so well-adapted to catch it as the Goshawk. This is the story of an unerringly precise natural balance.

Graceful, powerful, and — above all — playful... is the endearing River Otter. This program is a portrait of these energetic creatures, set against the backdrop of our nation’s largest park in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. From tumbling streams to placid lake shores, this freshwater clown finds fun wherever it travels. Every aspect of its existence is explored.

Family camping trips take on added interest now that Marty and Diane Stouffer’s daughter Hannah is old enough to keep up with them. There’s fun to be had and lessons to be learned as they share with Hannah the secrets of the wild creatures and wild places they love. We see that a child’s enormous capacity to learn from Nature is one of our most precious inborn


Year Six

In the eerie backwater bayous of southern Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin, Marty Stouffer poles a traditional pirogue to track the South’s largest animal, a honey-loving legend. Clues lead to a Bobcat, Alligator, Snapping Turtle, and other animals which share this mysterious realm with an elusive phantom — the Black Bear. Though large, it is now rare in these hardwood bottomlands.

Continuing to search the wild heart of bayou country, Marty finds and follows more clues, meeting creatures both friendly and deadly, before locating the Bear’s feeding ground: a pool of Catfish, a surprisingly tricky meal. When an aggressive Alligator moves in during the night, the two legends compete and clash to reveal which will be king of the Catfish pool and the swamp.

From Bluebells to Bluebirds to Blue Whales — Nature abounds in examples of this primary hue. And in this wildlife programming departure, we take a lyrical look at the color blue in both the Plant and Animal Kingdoms, explaining some of the reasons why it exists. Some explanations are simple — others quite complex. Beautiful and bold, this is a wild “Rhapsody in Blue”.

“Timberdoodle, Bogsucker, Twister” — the Woodcock and its nicknames are equally unusual. It flies as slowly as 5 mph, or becomes a blur of speed as it spirals hundreds of feet into the air in a spectacular springtime courtship display. Its life story, from downy young to fall migration, is filmed at Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge in Maine. Moles and Moose also play a part in the story.

It’s most widely known as a status symbol when its skin is fashioned into luxury garments. But there’s much more to a Mink than a fur coat. It’s a fascinating member of the Weasel Family — as graceful in water as an Otter, as feisty on land as a Wolverine, and as pungent under stress as a Skunk. We follow a mother Mink as she hunts, mates and rears a family near lovely Lake Superior.

The Pacific Coast’s various species of Seals and Sea Lions spend most of their lives roaming the ocean, coming ashore only to give birth and to breed. To best utilize their time gathered on land, both events occur together. January to July is the season when enormous Elephant Seals clash in battle, graceful California Sea Lions frolic, and baby Harbor Seals learn to dare the waves.

By viewer request, we look at a Bird whose story is woven into our culture. Yet this creature, the Pilgrim’s choice for the first Thanksgiving meal, soon became a rarity. Our largest gamebird, with its flamboyant courtship, is a strong flier that prefers to run. We meet the shy Gobblers of our eastern woodlands and their lanky western kin — forebearers of all domestically raised stock.

Our traditional symbol of Nature’s abundance was once feared to be gone as a gamebird due to overhunting by humans and a loss of their habitat. But today, the Wild Turkey is one of game management’s greatest success stories. The many who worked so hard for this comeback were perhaps too successful, for some states now worry about having an over-abundance of these birds.

While investigating life in an Oklahoma cave, Marty Stouffer discovers a pair of male Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes engaged in an extraordinary “combat dance”. Sinuous bodies swaying upright, the intertwined serpents clench and strain as they try to wrestle each other to the ground. All stages of this hypnotizing Reptilian phenomenon are seen for the first time.

Managing wildlife most often means managing humans — the primary predator in virtually all our ecosystems. Through this complex, but vital, process, we constantly try to balance our own conflicting interests with those of our native wild creatures. This thought-provoking program examines some of the most innovative and controversial plans currently operating across the country.


Year Seven

Montana’s Glacier National Park, with its breathtaking scenic vistas and sheer cliffs, is the cloud-scraping home of the Rocky Mountain Goat. Here Marty Stouffer examines the whole life story of this unique snow-white animal. We watch breathlessly as we see how the growing young kids learn to challenge gravity in a vertical world of harsh seasons, rugged crags and sudden avalanches.

On the Arctic tundra, predator and prey alike are aided by fur or feathers the color of snow. Some, like the Gyrfalcon and Snowy Owl, stay white year round; others, like Ptarmigan and Snowshoe Hare, turn white for winter. Forcing its inhabitants to migrate, adapt, or perish, the world’s harshest, yet most sensitive, environment is the setting for a continual life-and-death drama.

In French, the Fox is called “Reynard”, meaning “unconquerable through his cleverness”. Is this charming canid as crafty as the fables portray? Does it deserve its reputation as henhouse bandit? We’ll find out as we meet these cunning hunters: the Arctic Fox, the Swift and Kit Foxes of our Southwest, the wide-ranging Gray Fox and the well-renowned Red Fox.

Seeds that actually walk along the ground, mushrooms that glow in the dark, and vines that strangle their host to death... These are just some of the extreme tactics that plants have adapted to ensure survival. Time-lapse photography reveals the Plant Kingdom’s most ingenious and dramatic reproductive techniques, proving Plants to be as wild and indispensable as any wildlife.

Mollusks are among the oldest living organisms, their fossils dating back 600 million years. And to this day, wherever there’s water — fresh or salty — you’ll find at least one of these fascinating Invertebrates. The second largest group in the Animal Kingdom, they come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and surroundings, from high-mountain Snail to deep-ocean Squid.

Amid the scenic springtime beauty of the wild Rockies, we meet a colony of Yellow-bellied Marmots waking from winter hibernation. As summer progresses, these social “Rock-chucks”, close kin to the Woodchuck, teach their fuzzy young about communal life. One major lesson is diving for safety when a sentry whistles that their primary predator, the Golden Eagle, hovers overhead.

North America’s most widespread Mammal is a tenacious, aquatic Rodent — always swimming, digging, or eating in a rich wetland home. It flourishes despite the pressures of civilization and the ever-present trappers who desire its thick, glossy pelt. Watching a Muskrat bite a Moose on the nose and fight with neighbors, we see why it’s been likened to a grouchy old man.

Yosemite, one of our most spectacular National Parks, is home to six species of Chipmunks. Each is found at a different altitude, from dry foothills to 13,000-foot peaks. The life stories of several of these frisky, appealing creatures, and their relationship to humans, are seen amid the grandeur of Bridal Veil Falls, Half Dome and the world’s oldest and largest Giant Sequoias.

Our most common wild feline is a perfectly designed predator — quick and clever enough to capture a tiny Meadow Mouse, yet formidable enough to bring down a full-grown Deer. Prey can become play, for this solitary hunter sometimes pesters its captured quarry to death. Easily confused with its cousin, the Lynx, the Bobcat flourishes in close proximity to humans.

Our most enduring trees are the Evergreens — the oldest, tallest, and largest of all living things! Long ago, people thought they were magical and brought their luck indoors to begin the Christmas tree tradition. Haven for a myriad of Birds and Mammals, which seek shelter among their boughs, these are truly trees for all seasons, symbols of the American wilderness.


Year Eight

America’s Tree Squirrels are always on the alert. They swing through the woods with the greatest of ease, often leaping astonishing distances from branch to branch. Much of their graceful agility is due to their long, bushy, balancing tails. These tree-top acrobats use their tails as signal flags, umbrellas, blankets, and parachutes, as they go about their industrious and amusing lives.

Of all wild animals, Rabbits are among the most familiar and best loved. With their soft fur and appealing eyes, they represent the vulnerable side of Nature. Though preyed upon, the Rabbit Family boasts surprising assets in the fight for survival, and its members — from the Eastern Cottontail to the Swamp Rabbit — are widespread, and as successful as any other American Mammal.

Since ancient times, the faithful, home-loving Dove has been a universal sign of peace. The billing and cooing of a courting pair suggests true love. This program examines the intimate lives of our six wild and three domestic species of Pigeons and Doves: their displays, courtship, family life and migration — as well as the irony that these graceful Birds are the most hunted on earth.

Symbols of noble power and unsurpassed freedom —Falcons, Hawks and Eagles still arouse in us a centuries-old mystique. From the tiny Shrike to the majestic Eagle, they come in all sizes, populate every habitat and are each specifically designed for the prey they hunt. Some of the most impressive animals on earth are these expert, legendary hunters — aristocrats of the air.

Among our least known, and yet most intriguing, Mammals are the Weasels. They are probably the most beneficial of our predators, and they are definitely the quickest — their movements being almost too fast to follow. Audacity is the most appropriate word for these deadly little carnivores. A three-inch-high Weasel will actually attack a man who attempts to block it from its captured prey!

The many members of the Weasel Family are known
for their luxurious fur and for their often-aggressive dispositions. While the Sea and River Otters are highly playful, the Wolverine, Badger and Mink are fierce hunters which rarely back down and run. This unique family also includes smelly Skunks, arboreal Marten and Fisher, and rare Black-footed Ferret.

From fern-filled rain forests to towering, glaciered peaks, the lush beauty of our Pacific Northwest has many levels. Starting on a wave-beaten shore, Marty Stouffer leads us upward through the life zones of Washington’s Olympic National Park, where we meet the wealth of wildlife. Roosevelt Elk, Black-tailed Deer and Mountain Beaver enrich this unique wilderness sanctuary.

With ravaged rocks and grotesque patterns of erosion, South Dakota’s Badlands National Park looks as empty and desolate as the back side of the moon. But interspersed among its spires and castles are rich grasslands and lush gullies which provide for sizeable populations of large grazing and small burrowing animals. Birdlife is abundant and Mammals range from Bison to Badger.

One of America’s loveliest National Parks is at its most spectacular when Dogwood and Rhododendron burst into bloom. We witness this special season of change and beauty, and learn Nature’s secrets of precise timing, as the forested Virginia hillsides unfold. From flowering forest floor to greening treetop, we see a complex interaction of a myriad of living things.

If you can’t go to see all the wildlife you’d like, then maybe you can attract more of it to your own backyard or window sill. It’s easier than you think. Creating habitat for wildlife also enhances the beauty and value of your entire neighborhood. This program outlines easy steps to provide food and shelter for a variety of Birds, Mammals and other fascinating creatures.


Year Nine

With their proud bearing and stately crown of antlers, Elk are admired by many as the most elegant member of the Deer family. Years ago, herds of them roamed freely across our land. Today, confined to western mountains, they depend increasingly on management by man. We investigate the controversial situation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, site of the National Elk Refuge.

In springtime, in the mysterious hour before sunrise, feathered shadows gather on secluded display grounds, risking predation to perform ancient rites of survival. From coast to coast, from deep forest to prairie sandhill to high timberline, North America is home to a variety of Grouse; each noted for its colorful vocal sacs and each with its own spectacular courtship dance.

Of the more than 4000 species of Mammals on earth, the tiny Shrew has earned a reputation for being the most voracious. It devours almost anything in its path, including creatures much larger than itself. Its heart is hardly malicious, but beats at a rate of 1000 times a minute. This reflects a metabolism which requires the Shrew to consume several times its body weight daily.

With its shy habits, soft plumage, and alert dark eyes, it’s no wonder the Bobwhite Quail of our southeastern states inspired this Southern compliment. Other members of the widespread Quail family include the Gambel’s, California, Montezuma and Scaled Quail. Their behavior, both as individuals and in coveys, proves them to be as clever and resourceful as they are lovely.

From branch to branch leaps a lithe hunter, alert in its pursuit of Squirrels, Birds and other prey. Its rich golden fur blends with the trunks of the Spruce trees in our northern forests; its bright eyes shine as it hunts and forages at night. We follow a young Marten from early spring into winter and see how this most solitary member of the Weasel family earns — leap by leap — the right to survive.

Long the misunderstood subject of myth and legend, Bats are hardly a favorite form of wildlife. Yet they are among our most valuable — and interesting — fellow creatures. This amazing study of America’s only flying mammals reveals, with close-up and slow-motion cinematography, their fascinating habits and abilities, and offers fresh insight into the dark world of cave ecology.

Birds are distinguished from other animals by their feathers. Few of Nature’s creations surpass the feather’s function, beauty and design. These delicate, yet complex, structures insulate, waterproof, camouflage, and adorn. But the most notable function of feathers is flight. Join Marty Stouffer as we learn how feathers give Birds a powerful edge in the struggle to survive.

As spring unfolds, the sweet melodies of Birds provide a welcome break from the stillness of winter. The trills and eye-catching displays of courting males actually serve a dual purpose — to intimidate rivals as well as to attract prospective mates. The song and dance rituals are all orchestrated toward a single goal — to ensure the most fit pass on genes for future generations.

They can be cup-shaped, or long and hollow, like gourds. They can be coarsely made of sticks and mud, or exquisitely woven of spider web and down. They can be found anywhere, deftly hidden or dangerously exposed. Even the eggs that fill them are not always egg-shaped. Whatever the style of the nest, this program shows that Birds do not need a house to make a home.

Nature’s artistry includes brightly colored feathers, fur, petals and scales designed to attract mates or ward off enemies. But what about her neutral hues? Marty Stouffer examines the function of non-color in Nature, and shows us that the lives of gray creatures, such as the Glacier Bear, Stone Sheep, Gyrfalcon, and even the Gray Wolf are certainly anything but drab.


Year Ten

A decade of North America’s fascinating and varied creatures, spectacular locations, and imaginative filmmaking have combined to make WILD AMERICA one of the highest-rated programs on PBS and a favorite for millions of viewers. Marty Stouffer proudly hosts a retrospect of WILD AMERICA’S first ten years. He also presents a peek at the future of the Series.

Ridiculed for its awkward appearance and homely face, this largest member of the Deer family is actually one of the most graceful. It moves with equal ease in water or on land. Solitary and restless, a bull Moose may weigh half a ton and stand nine feet tall — a formidable foe during the fall rut. Learn about these mighty animals as we follow them through a year’s seasons.

They were here even before the Dinosaurs appeared, and they remain with us today — tough and adaptable, patient and persistent. Their unique design includes an armored shelter that enables the Turtle to prosper in deserts, forests, swamps, rivers, and seas. This program highlights the casual lifestyles of several noteworthy North American species of Turtles.

You may not be able to turn one into a prince, but Frogs are certainly royal in their ability to adapt to many types of habitat. Commonly seen, yet little known, these water-loving Amphibians are usually smooth-skinned, sleek and speedy. We examine the surprising life cycles of the Leopard and Bullfrog, the tiny Tree-frog nicknamed the “Spring Peeper” and other croaking creatures.

One of the few creatures that can afford to turn its back on an enemy, the Porcupine has approximately 30,000 good reasons for doing so. Barbed quills on back and tail insure that it has few enemies in the first place, so this large Rodent confidently goes about its business at an extremely relaxed pace. As we see, however, it can be destructive and sometimes controversial.

There are four American species — Striped, Spotted, Hog-nosed and Hooded — and each is a variation on the same theme: black and white, easily provoked and wickedly perfumed! Understandably, Skunks have few enemies other than cars, household pets and large Owls. But they do have many interesting traits which are often overshadowed by an emphasis on the obvious.

Like a well equipped soldier, the Armadillo of our southern states is always dressed for battle. Its lizard-like skin and bony-plated shell give it a perfect defense against predators. Named “little armored one” by Spanish Conquistadors, this surprisingly agile swimmer and powerful digger has proven itself a true pioneer in the fastest known migration of any animal.

This poetic look at America’s forests leads us into the shadowed depths of woodlands from Louisiana’s steamy cypress swamps to the moody rain forests of Washington’s Olympic National Park. We marvel at the great variety of forests across our land, meet the wild inhabitants of these timberlands, and see how each wild ecosystem is constantly changing, yet also kept in balance.

The Whitebark pine tree has wingless seeds that do not disperse in the wind. How does this stout member of the Evergreen family reproduce? The Clark’s Nutcracker, a Crow-sized bird that removes the seeds from the cones and buries them in the ground, allows the Whitebark pine to renew itself. It’s an essential food source for many creatures from Red Squirrel to Grizzly Bear.

In Spring, the wilderness is full of new baby animals. Unfortunately, some will lose track of their parents when exploring their new surroundings. Enter the Stouffer family to nurse these youngsters until their return to the wild. Pure silly fun is enjoyed by all in raising a Mountain Goat, Black Bears and Kestrel Falcons. The magic of children and discovery unite in this playful adventure.


Year Eleven

The aptly-named Largemouth Bass is the top game fish in America and, as a result, Big Business to fishermen. Marty Stouffer takes us on an exciting excursion into the bizarre world of Bass fishing. Along the way, we also examine the complete life history of this fascinating member of the Perch family. Ultimately, we also see its enormous economic importance.

Few of Nature’s creatures delight us more than the short-lived Butterfly. During the warm spring and summer months, Butterflies multiply miraculously. Even so, some species live but a fortnight. We’ll follow the Monarch’s thousand-mile trek to its huge wintering colonies. We’ll also show you how easy it is to attract these fragile beauties to your very own backyard.

Even those as bold as the Bobcat know it’s not very bright to pick a fight with a Badger. The quarrelsome Badger remains ready to challenge any opponent, whether to defend itself or to steal a meal. Come meet the pugnacious Badger, and see how its enormous curved claws and array of sharp teeth help it to frighten away potential predators and also to excavate its elaborate den.

Horns are permanent, while antlers are shed annually. The forked horns of the Pronghorn Antelope may prove to be the missing link between these two types of beautiful bony crown. Since prehistoric times, man has displayed these trophies. We’ll share this ancient human fascination with horns and antlers as we explore their vital, and often unusual, roles in Nature.

Last but surely not least, tails are a vital and intriguing part of any creature’s anatomy. Animal’s tails come in a fascinating variety of shapes and sizes. Used as hands, rudders and shovels, their form and function are as varied as the creatures to which they are linked. This exciting tale takes us behind the beast as we examine one hundred and one different kinds of tails.

Did you know that feet do much more than just move animals from place to place? They are fascinating in their wide diversity. Some feet can smell and some can even taste; a few feet are as dexterous as the most skillful hands and others move their owners at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour! We focus on Nature’s fantastic feat in creating such an amazing array of fascinating feet.

Did you ever wonder why a predator’s eyes are right in the front of its head, while its prey’s eyes are on either side? How can an Insect have as many as 30,000 separate eyes? How do a Frog’s eyes help it swallow? Why are some animals color-blind? Come along as we look at how Nature has given each species its own unique way of looking at the world.

From rich reds to bright yellows, cool blues to velvet blacks, the many colors we perceive in Nature evolved because they have survival value for living creatures. Certain hues aid reproduction or serve as protective camouflage. Some signal danger. This pretty program reveals practical aspects of beauty, and shows how it enhances our enjoyment of Nature.

Wyoming has more wildlife — both in broad diversity of species and also in sheer numbers — than any other state south of the Canadian border. It is also blessed with more exploitable resources than any state except Alaska. Conflicts between the two are developing. Wyoming’s untamed beauty is seen to be all the more precious in light of the controversy it raises.

Whether it’s the gnarled old Scrub Oak that hosts an intricate web of a Spider, or a raging river filled with Trout, a creature’s habitat is as varied as the thousands of species that live here in North America. In this program, we’ll uncover some of the many interesting places Mammals and Birds dwell, and learn why habitat is so important in their fight for survival.


Year Twelve

Marty Stouffer rides the Great Divide from Mexican to Canadian border in search of beautiful and unusual wildflowers. Along the route, we learn how Native Americans used wildflowers for food and medicine. Cactus of Arizona, Yucca of New Mexico, Columbine of Colorado, Paintbrush of Wyoming, and Bear Grass of Montana all play a part in this adventure.

Five hundred years ago, Spanish Conquistadors re-introduced the Horse to the Americas. A handful escaped and grew into vast herds by the 1800’s. These “Mestanos”
or Mustangs, inspired Native Americans to develop an elaborate horse culture on their “Sacred Dogs.” Raven, a Mustang stallion, leads his band through the Arrowhead Mountains in this true story of survival.

As our fascinating story of a band of Wild Mustangs continues, Raven, the Mustang stallion, and his son Diamond are released with what is left of their
decimated band. They battle mare-stealing “bachelor” stallions, and witness the birth of the extraordinary colt named Cloud. We travel along with this courageous band as their incredible adventures unfold.

In a frigid landscape, a Polar Bear emerges from her maternity den with cubs. The Innuit people call this largest predator on earth “Nanook” and bestow upon it spiritual power. Most admired by the native people is the mother Bear which, over the course of two or three years, will fearlessly protect and patiently teach her cubs how to survive in their beautiful, high Arctic home.

Come along and trace the misadventures of America’s wildlife aliens. Throngs of European Starlings, hordes of Norway Rats, scores of South American Nutria and millions of Middle Eastern Mussels displace native species and weaken Nature’s well-woven fabric. Not all are unwelcome. Hunters prize Chinese Pheasants and birders feed flocks of Monk Parakeets.

Spring comes to our four flyways, heralding the arrival of millions of migrating Waterfowl. In marshlands from Canada to Mexico, Divers and Dabblers perform gaudy breeding rituals and settle into nesting season, an unfolding drama of rebirth in America’s heartland. Beautiful adults and cute young alike must survive clashes with Raccoons, Weasels and Eagles.

Bison once grazed America in herds so vast the prairie appeared a moving blanket of deep brown. The native people of the Great Plains molded their culture around the shaggy beast they called “Tatonka.” When westward moving Europeans slaughtered the species, they broke a sacred union of people and provider. Yet, Bison are now returning, even to ancient Indian lands.

Marty Stouffer’s children, Hannah and Luke, narrate a charming romp. Grizzly, Polar, and Black Bear cubs learn how to fish and forage, swim, climb and just have fun. We see Hannah and Luke’s encounter with a pair of Black Bear cubs near their Colorado home. Never-before-filmed scenes of Wolverine cubs top off this delightful and heartwarming tribute to childhood.

Ground Squirrels would not win a popularity contest; unless, of course, you’re a hungry Hawk, Fox or Black-footed Ferret. From the Arctic Ground Squirrel of Alaska and the Golden-mantled of the Rockies to the ubiquitous Prairie Dog, our concealed cameras shed light on why these under-appreciated little critters allow us all to enjoy Nature’s most magnificent species.

Whether a bird chisels, cracks, probes, snaps, or pecks around for a living, its bill plays a big part in what unique Ecological Niche it will fill. With sturdy conical bills, a Grosbeak crushes the hardest seeds. Using the notch on a hooked beak, a Falcon snaps the neck of prey. Limpkins slide their long curved bills into snail shells and, with spatula-shaped mandibles, Spoonbills seine southern waters.