Secrets of Nature Films

Secrets of Nature: Films

Watch Seed Time (2016)
Watch The Nightingale (1932)

Below you will find a list of all the Secrets of Nature films released between 1922 and 1933. Where a film is available to stream online, a link is provided. Where more information about an individual film is available on this site, click on the film’s title to find out more. Film descriptions are from a British Instructional Films catalogue from around 1926.

Silent films 
The Mimics“The central theme of this film is the protective mimicry adopted by certain defenceless insects. The two examples taken are the Bee Hawk Moth and the Looper-Caterpillar that eventually becomes the Swallow-tail Moth. Both protective colouring and imitative colouring are clearly illustrated.”?
Hand versus feet“This is an interesting comparison of the methods of progression in animals and man, and shows the use to which the following animals put their libms: Monkeys, the Lion, Brown Bear, Polar Bear, Otter, Kangaroo and Sea Lion.”1922
Infant Welfare In The Bird World “Pictures the rearing of young by sea birds on Cornish coast, showing Kittiwake, Guillemot, Herring Gull, Manx Shearwater, and black-headed Gull; and the less successful rearing of young by land birds, including Woodpecker, Chiff-Chaff and Goldfinch.”1922
Skilled Insect Artisans “The Insect Artisans are the Ailanthus Silk Moth and the Red Admiral. The pictures show how these creatures spin silk and weave a cocoon, and the way in which the change from caterpillar to moth is effected.”1922
The Battle Of The Ants “The history of two colonies of Ants at the Zoological Gardens: initial quarrels between individual ants from each colony lead to fierce battle and the kidnapping of the queen; but eventually peace is declared, and the two colonies join forces.”1922
Children Of Nature“This film shows the care taken by Nature to preserve the species, by means of adapting to each other the creature and its environment. This is illustrated by reference to the habitat of the Pheasant, the Water Hen, the Tree Creeper, the Wallaby, the Monkey, the Baboon, the Swan, and the Brown Owl.”1922
Fathoms Deep Beneath The Sea “Beneath the waves are mountains, plains and valleys full of life: here the Conger, the Octopus, and the Wrasse hunt for food; shrimps and prawns act as scavengers; sea-anemones and starfish decorate the sea-floor, and the Spider-Crab assumes protective colouring by covering its back with pebbles.”1922
Frocks And Frills “In this picture an interesting light is thrown upon the use to which animals and birds put their “frocks and frills,” as illustrated by the Turkey Cock, the Hen Pheasant, the Viper, the Racoon, the Peacock, and various kinds of fish.”1922
Nature’s Gliders “Slow-motion photography reveals the beauty and rhythm of the sea-bird’s flight. Interesting studies are shown, demonstrating loss of activity in the domestic fowl, and the wing-action of the starling.”1922
Studies In Animal Motion “The movements of wild creatures, and the significance of these movements, are illustrated by reference to the following: Goat, Kangaroo, Birds, Toad, Frog, Snake, Sea Lion, Tortoise, Land-crab and Snail.”1922
The Cuckoo’s Secret “The film shows a Cuckoo caught in the act of laying an egg in the nest of two titlarks. The egg is hatched by the foster-mother, and she and her mate feed and tend the young cuckoo, even to the detriment of their own babies.”1922
The Seashore “When the tide retreats, a special world of animal and plant life is left behind in the pools of the sea-shore. Crabs and Snails, Whelks and Sea-Worms, the Sea Urchin, the Sea Mouse, the Starfish and the Brittle Star are all to be found here.”1922
The Sparrow-Hawk “This fierce bird is shown, during the breeding season, hunting for food to supply the family larder, while its mate hatches the eggs and cares for the little ones. An ignorant gamekeeper shoots the male bird, and hangs it up in his larder with his other “trophies”.”1922
The Story Of Peter The Raven “A wild Raven is captures on the rugged Pembrokeshire cliffs and is sold in a neighbouring town, but finds a kind master. Peter is very clever, wicked and engaging, and enjoys as much liberty and more luxury than if he had been left in his native haunts.”1922
The Story Of The Buzzard “The Buzzard has its nest high up in the cliffs of a rock-bound coast, and here the young buzzards are hatched, fed, and reared. We are shown the growth and development of the healthy youngsters, and their final departure into the wide would.”1922
The Story Of The River “This is a romantic and not a scientific film, tracing the river’s development from its origin as mist which is drawn up by the sun and dissolved again as rain, to the moment when it reaches its final goal, the sea. The many forms of life which are to be found upon the river bank are also shown.”1922
Tragedy Of The Sea “A spider crab of villainous disposition searches for food in the neighbourhood of a fishing boat. A fisherman’s pipe, flung overboard, attracts a crowd of “finny” spectators, and in the commotion the spider crab kills and devours his best friend.”1922
The Lair of the Spider“The female spider accepts the courtship of her timorous male lover, but afterwards seizes him, binds him in a silken net, and eats him for dinner. She is shown subsequently making her intricate and beautiful web, using it as a lure, repairing it when torn, and weaving a silk cocoon to hold her eggs.”1922
The Comma Butterfly “We watch the grub turn into a chrysalis, and the chrysalis develop into a butterfly. We see the crumpled wings of the newly-born butterfly expand as the blood runs into its veins, and we leave it, a miracle of metamorphosis, flitting about among the summer flowers.”1922
Nature’s Armour“All creatures are useful food to some other creatures, but all have means of self-protection: this is illustrated by reference to the Elephant, Hippopotamus, Crocodile, Armadillo, Woodlouse, Porcupine, Hedgehog, Lizard, Chameleon, Bison and Hermit Crab.”1922
The Labyrinth Spider “This picture presents a domestic drama: the male spider begins his courtship of the female, overthrows a rival, and succeeds in his suit. The female prepares the nursery, lays the eggs, and guards them until the young appear, but dies as soon as they are safely launched into the world.”1922
The Rook “The Rookery is in a Kentish village, and the nests are built in the top-most branches of the trees. Into this high and windy world the young rooks are born, and here they are fed and cared for. A predatory Buzzard descends upon the family, but is driven away, and in due course the new generation leaves the parent nest.”1922
The Sea“The action of the sea upon the shore and the process of erosion are cleverly illustrated; intimate pictures are given of the nests of the Common Tern, the Puffin, and the Black-Headed Gull, and the fisherman is shown reaping his harvest from the sea.”1922
The White Owl “The White Owl, always a weird and eerie creature, is shown pursuing its avocations as a “fly-by-night”. We see the hatching and rearing of the young, the night expeditions in search of mice and birds, and the departure of the young owls from the nest. The strange atmosphere that clings about these mysterious creatures is very subtly conveyed.”1922
Water Babies “This film depicts the various methods of reproduction by sea creatures, and the examples shown are the Pipe Fish, Rock-pool Blenny, Butterfly Blenny, Goby, Ray, Snake, Antedon and Tubularia (a close relation of the coral-forming creatures of tropical seas).”1922
The Evolution of the Caddis Fly“The Caddis Fly lays her eggs on the water and they sink to the bottom. The larva emerges and immediately builds itself a protective covering of wood. After passing through the “nymph” stage, its wings begin to appear. It leaves the water, and dries and expands its wings in the sun.”1922
Marine Parade “Shows the strange manner of progression of sea creatures, with reference to the Jellyfish, Paddle-worm, Sea-urchin, Orange Comb Star, Scallop, Whelk, Lobster, Crawfish, Cuttlefish, Gurnard, Shrimp and Prawn.”1923
Spring“This is a successful attempt to portray upon the screen the beauty and productiveness of springtime. The setting of this idyll is one of primroses, hawthorne, and apple-blossom; the actors are colts and calves, baby rabbits and baby birds, and other humbler creatures of pond and meadow.”1923
The Diver “The adventures of a diver in his descent to the floor of the sea, the strange creatures he encounters, and the difficulties of his re-ascent owing to carbon dioxide poisoning.”1923
The Path Through The Wood “This picture shows something of the romance which is to be found in the woodlands in spring and autumn. We see the Tree-pippit, the Nightingale, the Wren, the Squirrel and the Brown Owl in their leafy retreat, and watch a silent drama between a polecat and some rabbits.”1923
Where Flies Go In Winter (watch)“Flies have been a plague to mankind for thousands of years. Our ignorance of their life, since only one stage of their existence is passed in the light of day, has made it difficult to combat them, but here, with the air of the cinematograph, we are enabled to see all the phases through which they pass.”1923
Concerning Bills “The bills of birds are most varied in shape and wonderfully adapted to meet the requirements of their owners, as is demonstrated by the use to which are put the bills of the Snowy Egret, Sacred Ibis, Storks and Cranes, Flamingo, Cassoway, Secretary Bird, Cormorant, Darter and Penguin.”1923
Battles with Salmon1923
Giant Snails “Nature’s resourcefulness in adapting creatures to their surroundings is clearly shown among snails. Here we witness the laying and hatching of eggs, development, food, and general habits of different varieties of snails, notably the Giant Pond Snail of the Argentine.”1923
The Robin“A robin makes its nest in an old box in a shed. The interesting history of the family is followed until the time when the young robins are old enough to fly. Incidentally the villain of the piece, a large cat, is foiled in its evil designs.”1923
The May-Fly “In all the stages of its life the Mayfly is defenceless, and its existence is one long struggle to escape its enemies. As larvae, fish find Mayflies edible; as pupae, they fall a prey to ducks; as water-flies, they are hunted by birds; and if, after two years’ struggle to survive, the complete fly emerges, it lives only for few hours.”1923
The Stickleback “The male stickleback is a devoted parent: he takes on all the duties of a family. He builds a nest, attracts females to lay their eggs in it, guards the eggs, keeps fresh water running over them, and finally acts as a nurse for three months until the young can fend for themselves.”1923
The Story Of Westminster Hall 1923
A Fly Fisher Festival 1923
Cabbages And Things “Only 20 out of 1,000 eggs laid by the Large White Cabbage Butterfly evert develop into butterflies. We realise “the reason why” as we watch the drama enacted between the caterpillars and the Ichneumon flies.”1923
Crabs And Camouflage “Shell-fish are appreciated as delectable morsels, under the sea as well as out of it. They have to resort to strange and original ways of protecting themselves, as is shown by these pictures of Lobsters, Crawfish, and various species of Crabs.”1923
Fear!“Snakes and their method of attack. The effect of snakes on various creatures such as the Macaw, Domestic Fowl, Ostrich, Sheep, Lemur, Elephant and Monkey, shows that while domestic animals have lost their fear of snakes, wild animals still retain it.”1923
The Hunting Spider “This film gives unique pictures of a spider’s nest, and shows a spider preparing a platform in the sun upon which it places the cocoon. Within, the young spiders hatch and discard their first coats, and when the time is ripe their mother releases them from the nursery by biting her way through their silk covering.”1923
The Gannet “Ailsa Cragg, at the mouth of the Clyde, is the haunt of sea-birds. Here we are introduced to the Guillemot, the Puffin and the Gannet or Solar Goose. We watch the stages of development in the latter, from the egg to the full-grown bird. The Gannet’s mastery of flight is shown by slow-motion photography.”1923
A Fowl Story “This film deals with the life history of the domestic fowl: hatching of egg, growth and development of chicken, feeding, broody period, etc.”1923
Dinner-time At The Zoo “We tour the Zoo at feeding-time, and make the acquaintance of the Lion, Hyena, Hippopotamus, Zebra, Elephant, Mountain Sheep, Tortoise, Kinkajou, Hornbill, Brown Bear, Lizard, Polar Bear and Alligator.”1923
Summer“Brings to the screen some of the romance and beauty of summertime: the bee searches for gold in the flowers, the spider makes her home, the dragon-fly is transformed from a pupa into a thing of light and loveliness.”1923
The Tale Of A Dog Fish “After watching the Dog Fish — or “Rock Salmon” — in its home under the sea, we set out with the fishermen in their trawlers, take part in the big “catch”, dispose of our haul in the fish market, and see two of the more fortunate Dog Fish safely lodged in the local aquarium.”1923
The Tiger Beetle “Life in a Tiger Beetle colony is a very ferocious business, and such intruders as the Caterpillar, the Centipede, and the Spider soon learn this to their cost. The process of reproduction in this species is of considerable interest.”1923
The Wasp“We are not wont to look upon the Wasp with favour, but, nevertheless, we shall not be able to refrain from admiration as we watch the skill and care which it expends upon the work of propagation.”1923
Winter (watch)1923
Betty’s Day at the Zoo“Betty, who has no fear of animals however strange, makes a tour of the Zoo with her mother, and penetrates into some very exclusive homes. She gets lost, but happily a stranger takes her to the Office for Lost Children, and all ends well.”1923
Humble Friends “This pictures [sic] gives the life history of the ladybird, and shows wat an ally the rose lover has in her, for she is an inveterate enemy of green fly. Similar good work is done by the Lacewing Fly and the Hover Fly.”1924
Jack Daw “Jack’s home is in a church tower. Like all members of his family he is very curious, and the photographer catches him when he is up to mischief.”1924
Sea Breezes “Depicts the gradual rising of a storm at sea, and its effect on the world beneath the waves: the adventures of Pipe Fish, John Dory, and three Hermit Crabs (“Three Headstrong Hermits”)”1924
Strange Friendships “Miss Gladys Callow at the Zoo, by her sympathetic manner of approach, has become friendly with many wild animals, and here are pictured some of the strange friendships that she makes.”1924
The Stream “Shows life in and around a stream, and follows the stream’s divergent destiny when, at the “parting of ways”, one branch is deflected towards the mill and assists in its activities, while the other follows an even course, with nothing to disturb its tranquility but the wild life on its banks.”1924
Autumn“The “mellow fruitfulness” of Autumn is brought to the screen, together with the activities of the wild creatures that are getting ready for the winter.”1924
The Grouse “The life history of the Grouse, showing its nest and eggs, hatching of eggs and growth of young ones. The Keeper acts as Patrol, and protects the nest from the depredations of would-be robbers.”1924
The Pond “The calm surface of the pond betrays little of the teeming life beneath, but we see something of this hidden world as we watch the busy lives of the Leech, the Rat-tailed Larva, the Dytiscus Beetle and its offspring, and the ferocious larva of the Dragon-fly.”1924
Tiger Of The Stream 1924
Zoo Babies “All babies are attractive, and here at the Zoo are seen tiny fat-tailed Egyptian Mice, little Gerbilles, baby Kangaroos, Alligators, Hippopotami, Sea Lions, a Lion Cub and many other attractive little creatures all still enjoying their ‘cradle days’.”1924
The Dipper “The Dipper made her nest in a strange place, hard by a waterfall which the spring rains had rendered torrential. She had five white eggs, but, although she expended the greatest care on them, misfortune overtook them, and after a month’s careful nursing only one baby Dipper survived to find its way down to the water’s edge.”1925
Paws And Claws “Nature adapts the limbs of animals to the works they will be required to do. This principle is illustrated by the Lion, the Tiger, Leopard, Giant Ant-Eater, Armadillo, Camel, Rheindeer[sic], Gazelle, Fowl, Chameleon, Otter, Beaver, Penguin, Fruit-Bat, Spider Monkey and Gibbon.”1925
A Strange Courtship “Shows the hatching of the eggs of the Epeira Quadrata (or Garden Spider) and the emergence of the young spiders to fend for themselves. The life-cycle of a female is followed, showing her courtship, method of securing food, laying of eggs, and subsequent death.”1925
The Swallow Tail Butterfly “Shows food and habits of caterpillar, and selection by latter of a suitable place in which to undergo change into chrysalis. It remains here for the winter, to emerge during the following summer as a fully-grown butterfly.”1925
The Swallows “These swallows built their nest in a loft: the young are reared, make several trial excursions into the outside world, and at last take flight in order to sample life for themselves. The action of swallows in flight is shown by slow-motion photography.”1925
The Vapourer Moth “This picture shows the life-cycle of the Vapourer Moth: the food and habits of the caterpillar, construction of cocoon, emergence of butterfly, appearance of mate, laying of eggs, and subsequent death of female.”1924
The Golden Eagle “In spite of the fact that this apparently fierce bird in very shy and builds its eyrie upon the most inaccessible crag it can find, the camera-man was able to obtain many interesting pictures of the mother-bird brooding her eggs, the parents caring for their young, and the young birds leaving the nest at last for the wider life of the moors.”1926
The Life Of A Plant 1926
The Puss Moth “Depicts the life history of the puss moth, its enemies, and the methods of self-protection which it has adopted.”1926
Round The Empire At The Zoo “The varieties of Birds and Beasts which are found only within the limits of the British Empire give us some ideas of the extent of our dominions. We pay a visit to the Zoo with this idea in mind, and our search soon takes us to Canada, India, Africa and Australia.”1926
Seed Time (watch)1926
The Gnat “This film, an example of micro-cinematography, with all the pictures very highly magnified, tells the life story of the common gnat and, among other things, shows precisely what takes place when one received a gnat bite.”1926
An Aquarium In A Wineglass “This film shows that when a tuft of hay is put in a wineglass full of pond or tap water an aquarium is made which automatically produces both its inmates and the food they eat. Here we see the Barrel Animalcule, the Slipper Animalcule, the Spiral Twister, the Trumpet Animalcule and the Bell Animalcule.”1926
Battle Of The Plants 1926
Busy Bees “These pictures show the marvellous industry of the Bee, the ingenuity it exercises in making its home, and the ordered programme of life that it appears to follow.”1926
Emperor Moth “This film shows the food and habits of the caterpillar, the construction of a cocoon, the long ‘pupa’ stage and the final emergence of the moth, to flit about among the heather which nourished it in its caterpillar days.”1926
Magpie“Born among the branches of a thorn bush, this magpie was only two weeks old when fate found a new home for him. He settled down in it happily enough, and was soon enjoying many luxuries. He was always in mischief, but this did not detract from his essential charm.”1926
Phantoms (sound version released in 1930 – watch)“Phantom flies are extraordinarily transparent in the water, and it is this curious characteristic that has earned for them their name. This film shows the development and habits of the Phantom, and its cousin, the False Phantom, and the manner in which they retain their transparency.”1926
The Story Of The Grasses 1927
The Story Of Cecropia 1927
Ant Lion 1927
Floral Co-Operative Societies 1927
Nursery Of The Cormorant 1927
Plant Magic 1927
Praying Mantis 1927
The Story Of A Glass Of Water 1927
Romance Of The Flowers 1927
The Denizens Of The Garden 1927
The Plants of the Pantry1927
The Story Of The Leaf 1927
The Iris Family 1929
Scarlet Runner & Co. (re-released as sound version in 1930 – watch)1929
Springtime At The Zoo 1929
The Frog (re-released as sound version in 1930 – watch)1929
The Home Wrecker (watch)1929
The Honey Bee 1929
Sound Films
Plants Of The Underworld (watch)1930
Daily Dozen At The Zoo (watch)1930
Marine Models (watch)1930
Safety In Hiding (watch)1930
Sea Level (watch)1930
The Flight Machine (watch)1930
The Sundew (watch)1930
Bath Time at the Zoo (watch)1930
Down Under (watch)1930
Peas And Cues (watch)1930
The Aphis (watch)1930
The Merlin (watch)1930
Starting In Life (watch)1930
Enter The Queen 1930
Phantoms (watch)1930
Mighty Atoms (watch1930
A Spoon In His Mouth (watch)1930
Hold All (Feeding Time At The Zoo) 1930
Playtime At The Zoo (watch)1930
Special Messengers (watch)1930
The Strangler (watch)1930
War In The Trees (watch)1931
Friendly Flies 1931
In All His Glory (watch)1931
Magic Myxies (watch)1931
The Light Of Love 1931
The World In A Wine-Glass (watch)1931
The Mystery of Marriage (watch)1931
Great Crested Grebe (watch)1932
Dream Flowers (watch)1932
Short Eared Owl 1932
The Bittern  (watch)1932
The Two-Pounder (watch)1932
Water Folk (watch)1932
Romance In A Pond (watch extract)1932
The Nightingale (watch)“Glimpses of the little bird, with mate and young, and well recorded song. A first-class ‘Secrets of Nature’ picture.” The Bioscope, 30 March 1932.
“The commentary and photography are excellent.” Kinematograph Weekly, 24 March 1932
The Frothblower (watch)1932
Orphans Of The Wood (watch)1932
Springtime In The Scillies (watch)1932
The Raiders Of The Fens (watch)1932
Brock The Badger 1933
Amazing Maize (watch)1933
Brewster’s Magic (watch)1933
Fit To Boil 1933
Nature’s Double Lifters 1933


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