The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America [TTC Video]

The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America [TTC Video]
The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America [TTC Video] by James Currie, Birding Enthusiast
Course No 7782 | M4V, AVC, 687 kbps, 1280x720 | AAC, 157 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.45GB

Birds have often held a special fascination for humanity. Venerated as deities and powerful symbols in the mythology of ancient Egypt, China, the Maya, and other cultures, through the millennia birds have remained mysterious, magnetic, and irresistible. In the 18th and 19th centuries, naturalists traveled the earth in search of the most resplendent avian species, and the advent of science has only increased interest in the amazingly varied world of birds. Today this fascination continues in the modern activity of birding, a passionate and well organized pursuit for people around the world.

Birding is a pastime that enriches and challenges hobbyists on multiple levels. Going beyond basic bird identification, birding includes a far-reaching look into matters such as bird behavior, migration, habitats, conservation, and the science behind them. Ultimately, birding offers the opportunity to participate in the systematic study of birds, and to help science advance its understanding of them. As such, birding involves direct contact with one of our primary treasures of wildlife, and some of the most beautiful of all living creatures.

Now, The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America, taught by internationally respected birding expert James Currie, takes you deeply into this compelling, delightful, and multifaceted field, focusing on the astounding wealth of bird species found in North America.

Among the world’s top birding territories, North America–encompassing the United States, Canada, and Mexico–holds a special place. With its rich geographical diversity and wide range of wildlife habitats, North America is a paradise of bird species, and an inexhaustible field of interest for birders from around the globe. From iconic species such as the soaring California Condor, the fiery-pink American flamingo, and the magnificent frigatebird to the raptors, wading birds, forest and desert dwellers, seabirds, and the melodious songbirds that populate our own neighborhoods, North America offers one of the most outstanding spectrums of bird species in the world.

Discover the Remarkable Lives and Incredible Diversity of Birds

The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America introduces you to the joys of birding and bird identification in 24 engaging and richly enjoyable lectures, which cover the field in comprehensive detail. Across the span of the course, you’ll explore important components of birding, such as

  • the essentials of bird anatomy and taxonomy, and how this knowledge helps you critically in the field;
  • a thorough study of how to identify birds, plus related topics such as birding by ear, and birding at night;
  • key optical equipment for birding, highlighting binoculars and spotting scopes, and how to use them; and
  • the exciting activity of locating, approaching, and observing birds in the field.

You’ll also take a detailed look at the vast range of North American bird species, using the forthcoming 7th edition of the classic National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America as a foundation and reference, as well as learning about further important facets of birding, such as how to photograph birds, the best North American birding locations, and important elements of bird conservation.

In their remarkable scope and detail, these lectures are of great value not only for beginning birders, but for experienced enthusiasts who would like to extend and enrich their knowledge. Employing the vast resources of National Geographic, the renowned leader in wildlife and nature education, the course takes you into the field, using filmed demonstrations, location videos, and audio recordings of birdsong, as well as an abundance of visual images. With their substantial material on bird photography, these 24 content-rich lessons are a valuable reference for photographers and will deepen your appreciation of the wonders of the world around you, in the extraordinary lives of the birds which surround us yet often go unnoticed.

Learn the Many Enthralling Facets of Birding

Mr. Currie brings a lifetime of birding experience and a breathtaking knowledge of the avian world to this course, opening doors to every aspect of this world-spanning activity. A warm and inspiring lecturer, he devotes the course’s first half to a study of birding’s core elements, including:

  • Bird Identification–In building bird identification skills, learn to recognize orders, families, and species of birds by specific physical characteristics, such as their shape or silhouette, size, color, and anatomical features; additionally, study many other factors which aid in the challenges of identification, encompassing birds’ flight patterns, habitats, geographic ranges, feeding habits, and more;
  • The Roles and Dazzling Variety of Bird Plumage–Investigate the functions and different types of bird feathers and plumage variations; observe how many species pass through multiple plumage phases within their lifetime; how others undergo radical seasonal changes in plumage; and how evolution produces the shimmering colors of species such as the green jay, the eared quetzal, and the roseate spoonbill;
  • The Extraordinary Phenomenon of Birdsong—Learn how to recognize bird calls, and about the astonishing ways birds vocalize to communicate; discover how many melodic bird songs are actually “boasts”; how some birds have a repertoire of different alarm calls; and how specific species actually develop regional “dialects”;
  • Avian Migration—Study the remarkable story of migration, as it manifests in numerous bird species; investigate awe-inspiring examples, from the 25,000-mile seasonal flight of the arctic tern to the spring roosting in Nebraska of half a million sandhill cranes;
  • The Marvel of Bird Behavior—Grasp how knowledge of bird behavior aids identification; take account of striking behavioral features such as the western grebe’s dramatic, synchronized mating ritual; the white pelican’s group “herding” of fish; and the mockingbird’s ability to learn over 200 different songs, mimicking other species and environmental sounds;
  • Encountering Birds in the Field—Learn key field methods for observing birds; stealth techniques for tracking and approaching birds; ways to attract birds by mimicking bird calls and predators; and how to bring birds into your own yard or surroundings.

Explore North America’s Limitless Birding Opportunities

Spanning the North American continent, you’ll delve into the specifics of bird habitats, from forest and desert to wetlands, chaparral, and tundra, finding the unique avian species that make them their home, as well as how to observe birds in these types of terrain. You’ll also study the principle flyways of bird migration across North America, from east to west and north to south, and the spectacles of migrating species you can observe in each.

After you have learned the basics of birding, you’ll devote six lectures to a panoramic view of the bird species of North America, using vivid color images of our miraculous range of birdlife. Beginning with pelagic (ocean) birds, you’ll encounter waterfowl and shorebirds, raptors, and bird families containing the cuckoos, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, kingfishers, and many others, before taking a three-lecture tour of the Passerine order, the largest group, comprising the perching or songbirds. Finally, from the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge to Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park, you’ll investigate 23 of the top North American birding spots, locations which attract many hundreds of species.

Throughout the course, Mr. Currie speaks eloquently of the need for conservation of our precious bird species, and what we as individuals can do to protect endangered birds and their habitats. You’ll also learn about organizations that promote avian welfare, and how you can participate directly in their efforts, both at home and in the field.

The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America is your key to the extraordinary world of birds and birding–in your own backyard as well as across our majestic continent; an endlessly diverse and rewarding pursuit which offers you a lifetime of pleasure and discovery.

The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America [TTC Video]

Food, Science, and the Human Body [TTC Video]

Food, Science, and the Human Body [TTC Video]
Food, Science, and the Human Body [TTC Video] by Alyssa Crittenden
Course No 1940 | MP4, AVC, 1200 kbps, 856x480 | English, AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x29 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 10.6GB

It may be a well-worn saying, but scientific data backs it up: You are what you eat. Not only that: You are what your earliest ancestors ate. In short, the story of humanity is inextricably linked to the story of food.

Throughout history, our evolution as a species has been inextricably linked to the foods we eat. It’s a relationship that goes back nearly 2.8 million years to our roots as hunters and gatherers. And it continues to the present day in the form of debates over good nutrition and the future of food on an overpopulated planet.

Food has led to the rise of epic civilizations. It’s shaped—and been shaped by—watershed moments in human history, from the dawn of animal husbandry to the industrial age of mass production to the 21st-century farm-to-table movement. Most importantly: It’s led to the amazing behavioral and nutritional flexibility of the bodies we have.

Understanding our current—and future—relationship with food warrants a look back in time to the roots of food and food culture, and its intersection with science.

  • What foods did the human body evolve to eat, and why?
  • Which foods changed the course of history, and how?
  • How does the food we eat affect our genes and our minds?
  • What foods are (and aren’t) optimal for our everyday health?
  • Can we use cutting-edge science to end world hunger?

In Food, Science, and the Human Body, award-winning Professor Alyssa Crittenden of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas offers eye-opening answers to these and other perplexing questions about the evolution of the human diet and its relationship to our bodies. Bringing together insights from a range of fields including anthropology, biology, history, nutrition, health science, economics, and sociology, this exciting partnership between The Great Courses and National Geographic lays bare what science can teach us about food. Cutting through politics and separating myth from reality, these 36 lectures contain everything you need to know about everything you eat – and why you eat it.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

“We all spend countless hours thinking about, buying, preparing, consuming, and digesting food,” says Dr. Crittenden. “Our long evolutionary relationship with food is often hailed by anthropologists as one of the key milestones in human history.”

With its rich multidisciplinary approach, Food, Science, and the Human Body is designed to offer an even-handed, scientifically-based approach to the history and science of the human diet. Taking you far beyond the supermarket and the laboratory, these lectures offer a wider view of food. As you cross cultures, span time, and hop around the world from the most underfed to the most overfed human societies, here are some of the topics to consider along the way:

  • The Paleolithic Dinner Plate: A lot of news coverage has been given to the Paleo Diet movement, but the idea is based on the misconception that it mimics the actual diet of the Paleolithic era. Data from bones, stones, and teeth reveal that our ancestors had no single diet and evolved to consume a generalized diet including plant and animal matter.
  • Diets and Diseases: There is a deep connection between the evolution of the human diet and the rise of infectious and nutritional disease. For example, the second epidemiological transition in history, coinciding with the rise of industrialization, is characterized by a rise in chronic degenerative diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
  • Time to Start Cooking: Roasting, boiling, and baking are invariably “human.” Archaeological evidence of cooking implements reveals much about how our ancestors cooked their food, and stress the idea of cooking as important to the way we eat. Cooking meat, in fact, made it easier to digest and eradicated harmful bacteria.
  • More than Just Nutrition: From wine and beer to chocolate and spices, food has numerous social, cultural, and spiritual roots. Bread, for example, helped defined social status. The lightest bread was reserved for elites, while dark and heavy bread was for everyone else. Also, white bread was thought to be distinctly “American” in the early 20th century.
  • Bizarre Foods: Not everything human beings eat is universally considered food. Entomophagy, the practice of eating bugs, has been around for most of human history. Placentophagy, the eating of the placenta by a mother, is still practiced. And eating psilocybin mushrooms for their hallucinogenic qualities dates back to the Aztecs.
  • A World in Your Gut: Of all the body’s microbiomes, the gut has the greatest number of bacterial species that play a vital role in our health (from metabolizing our food to defending us from pathogens). Scientific data supports the idea that these gut microbes are “fellow travelers” in human evolution.

Pressing Questions and Concerns

Bringing a broad range of disciplines to these lectures, Dr. Crittenden makes Food, Science, and the Human Body an intriguing and illuminating catalog of some of the most pressing questions and concerns we have about what we eat, how we eat it, why we eat it, and how we’ll continue to eat it in the coming decades. Throughout the lectures, you will:

  • Compare and contrast food-related crises in different parts of the world, from mass starvation to the obesity epidemic.
  • Explore food trends and ideas, from the Mediterranean and MIND diets to the farm-to-table movement and the controversy surrounding GMOs.
  • Examine how watershed moments in history, like agriculture and mass production, were both advantageous and disadvantageous to human diet and health.
  • Bust common myths about how food acts on the body and mind, and come away with insights you can apply to your own everyday dinner plate.

Insights for When You’re Hungry

Dr. Crittenden has spent her entire career absorbed by the questions and issues examined throughout Food, Science, and the Human Body. “My fascination with the relationship between people and their food is one of the reasons that I’m teaching this course,” she says.

An anthropologist whose focus is on behavioral ecology and nutritional anthropology, Dr. Crittenden brings insights from her own research (among the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania) to these lectures. Her research has won multiple awards and has been published in top-tier journals and highlighted in magazines, including National Geographic and Smithsonian.

Plus, our partnership with National Geographic gives you access to a treasure trove of vibrant field photography, illustrations, timelines, maps, charts, portion diagrams, and other visual elements that add a wealth of understanding to a topic that stretches back millions of years.

This topic will continue to be of importance as long as human beings exist. And the information in Food, Science, and the Human Body will continue to resonate in your mind, every time you get hungry.

Food, Science, and the Human Body [TTC Video]

Food: A Cultural Culinary History [TTC Video]

Food: A Cultural Culinary History [TTC Video]
Food: A Cultural Culinary History [TTC Video] by Ken Albala
Course No 9180 | MP4, AVC, 720x404 | AAC, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 10.94GB

Eating is an indispensable human activity. As a result, whether we realize it or not, the drive to obtain food has been a major catalyst across all of history, from prehistoric times to the present. Epicure Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said it best: "Gastronomy governs the whole life of man."

In fact, civilization itself began in the quest for food. Humanity's transition to agriculture was not only the greatest social revolution in history, but it directly produced the structures and institutions we call "civilization."

In every era, the unfolding of history has been intimately tied to the need for food, the production of food, and the culture of food. In all major religions, food choice has been an integral part of religious identity. The quest for spices and exotic foodstuffs led to the European discovery of the New World, as well as to the connecting of the entire globe through trade. In 1840s Ireland a single food—the potato—changed the course of history. Modern warfare, from Napoleon's conquests to World War II, was made possible by advances in food technology.

In our own times, more people worldwide now recognize the McDonald's "golden arches" than the Christian cross. Beyond feeding our bodies, food choices and ideologies express social distinctions, as well as our values, concerns, and aspirations. For all of these reasons, food offers a deeply insightful lens on human history, shedding new light on the evolution of social and political systems, on cultural interactions, economic empires, human migrations, and more. Through food culture, we see how primary biological needs have shaped all human lives through the ages. The history of food is the history of human life at its most elemental, its most intimate, its most essential. It's also a story of ingenuity, creativity, and remarkable human behavior to rival any other aspect of culture.

In Food: A Cultural Culinary History, award-winning Professor Ken Albala of the University of the Pacific puts this extraordinary subject on the table, taking you on an enthralling journey into the human relationship to food. With this innovative course, you'll travel the world discovering fascinating food lore and culture of all regions and eras—as an eye-opening lesson in history as well as a unique window on what we eat today.

Incorporating extensive study of historical recipes, food preparation techniques from around the world, and activities you can try at home, these 36 colorful lectures take you through the entire spectrum of food history, from the cuisine of ancient Egypt to the great flowering of European cookery in the Middle Ages, and from the celebrity chefs of 18th-century France to our own Zagat- and Michelin-rated restaurant culture. Along the way, you learn in depth about food production and technology in each era; the social, economic, and political factors surrounding food culture; and thinking on diet and eating through the centuries. The result is a compelling inquiry that will change the way you look at both history and food itself.

Food as a Driver of Human History

As context for exploring humanity's remarkable food cultures, you observe the integral role of food in the unfolding of civilization. From prehistory to our own era, your study includes these seminal subjects:

  • The revolutions of agriculture: Learn how agriculture arose in the prehistoric world and how it spurred the development of urban organization, political systems, social classes, militaries, and trade.
  • Food and faith: Grasp how food practices became core expressions of religious faith in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as in the Eastern traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism.
  • 1492 and food globalization: Track the great trading empires of the Venetians, Portuguese, and Spanish, and the "Columbian exchange," where plants and animals from five continents were transplanted across the world.
  • Coffee, tea, sugar, and slaves: Discover how the trade in a group of superfluous luxury items in the era of European colonialism altered the focus of the global economy.
  • Eating in the Industrial Revolution: Learn how capital-intensive, mass food production in the Industrial Revolution forever changed human diet and nutrition.
  • Big business and food imperialism: Observe the vast industrialization of food production in the late 19th and 20th centuries; its economic and human consequences; and the ideologies, movements, and practices that arose to oppose it.

A Global Richness of Culinary Cultures

At the heart of the course, you delve deeply into classic food traditions around the world. Among civilizations of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, your inquiry highlights these traditions:

  • Status and ritual in ancient Rome: Learn how Roman food reflected social rank, wealth, and sophistication, and investigate the dining habits of the upwardly mobile as well as the gastronomic eccentricities of the emperor Heliogabalus.
  • The exquisite flavors of medieval Islamic cuisine: In a culture with no injunction against pleasure, learn how the medieval Muslims' sensual dishes—richly spiced, colored, or perfumed—reflected visions of a paradise on earth.
  • Aztec food culture: In this unique New World tradition, discover the Aztec way of life—the indigenous foodstuffs, eating rituals, and "signature" foods, from chilies to chocolate.
  • Sumptuous dining in the Renaissance: Study the sophistication and complexity of Renaissance-era food culture in the writings of Platina, Ficino, and Messisbugo, and witness the extravagance of banquets at the court of Ferrara.
  • The genesis of French haute cuisine: Grasp the aesthetics of French 17th-century cookery, based in refinement and pureness of flavors and study four Gallic cookbooks that revolutionized culinary history.
  • "Scientific" cooking in the 21st century: In our own diverse era, encounter the phenomenon of "molecular gastronomy"—technology-enhanced food creations designed to titillate and amaze the palate.

A Colorful and Diverse Learning Experience

Expanding on the lectures and in-studio demonstrations of food preparation techniques, the course guidebook presents a series of 39 hands-on activities—where you can learn how to make everything from Egyptian beer to Elizabethan "Chickin Pye"—that give you direct experience of how people cooked, ate, and thought about food in past eras. You also practice medieval eating rituals, track the rich evocation of food in art, and immerse yourself in the poetic ambiance of classic Japanese dining.

Across the span of the centuries you sample important food writing from many cultures, from the world’s first surviving recipes written in cuneiform to the lavish dishes of Apicius of Rome, and from the classic medieval cookbooks of Taillevent and Chiquart to the 19th-century Guide Culinaire by Escoffier.

And, throughout the series, the lectures pulsate with surprising and intriguing details of the human adventure with food:

  • Dinner knives with rounded tips were developed to reduce the threat of violence at the table.
  • The English word "dinner," from the Latin disjejunare, literally means "break-fast."
  • The banana, which we know as a single fruit, actually exists in hundreds of diverse varieties.
  • The world's first restaurant-based food culture was Edo-era Japan.
  • The separation of sweet and savory flavors that we know today is relatively recent historically. Before the 16th century, meat and fish were often cooked with sugar, fruit, and syrups.
  • The Middle Ages produced some of history's most outlandish and theatrical presentations of food, such as gilded boars' heads; "invented" creatures, mixing parts of different animals; and cooked peacocks spewing flames.

Food: A Cultural Culinary History offers you an insightful and startlingly different view of our civilization that you won't find anywhere else, revealing the development of societies and cultures through the single factor that has driven human life more than any other. In the process, you discover the stunning richness of world cultures as seen in their distinctive food traditions, and greatly broaden your own enjoyment of fine food.

Food: A Cultural Culinary History [TTC Video]

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