12 docs to put you in the mood for spring

Birds, bees, birch trees and more: all streaming now on CBC Gem

Birds, bees, birch trees and more: all streaming now on CBC Gem

Rare Bird Alert  

Punk rock birder Paul Riss has the Latin names of over 240 bird species tattooed on his body.  Birding, he says, is growing in popularity and a great way to explore the natural world and our place in it. 

Travel with him across North America as he meets a diverse tribe of birders and hunts for the rare saltmarsh sparrow, a species expected to be extinct within decades. 

One Million Trees 

Bitter cold, pouring rain and scorching hot sun — take a look at the "completely different, crazy world" of tree planting in British Columbia. Experienced planters will put thousands of trees into the ground a day, with some reaching a career high of one million trees. 

As the trees take root, bonds form between the planters. "The experience is very much about the people and the friends you make," says former tree planter and director Everett Bumstead. 

Toad People

Every year, thousands of fingernail-sized Western toadlets migrate from their wetland breeding grounds to a forest, where they'll spend most of their lives. Sadly, many toadlets never make it past the road that cuts through their habitat. 

Residents from all over British Columbia have come together to do whatever it takes to help the young toads survive; stopping traffic, ferrying them across the road in buckets and building toad tunnels. It's a reminder that local species face extinction too and wildlife conservation starts on our doorstep.


Aube Giroux, a Nova-Scotia based filmmaker, is also a food writer who shares her love of farm-to-table cooking on her popular blog, Kitchen Vignettes. In Modified, she goes on a personal journey to find out why genetically modified organisms are not identified on food product labels in Canada, despite being labelled in 64 other countries around the world. 

Giroux begins at her mom's side as she harvests food for dinner. Sharing a love for food activism, both look for answers and make a strong case for a more transparent food system. When her mother dies of cancer during production, the film becomes an homage to her spirit and belief that sustainable agriculture is the backbone of healthy rural communities.

A Bee's Diary

7 weeks, 8,000 km and 1 gram of honey; a spectacular look at the life of one bee from birth to death. Each bee in a hive is an individual with its own personality, a diversity that allows the collective colony to adapt quickly to their environment. 

Incredible cinematography captures the drama that comes with being a bee and the beauty of her tiny world. 

The Flying Farmers 

Colette Pierce is a farmer who flies all over the world. A member of International Flying Farmers, she soars through the clouds to connect the miles between farms. Take a look at the resilience of Manitoba's rural aviators and the work of the Flying Farmers clubs. 

Wild Canadian Year: Spring

Life is on the move as Canada begins to stir after the long, cold days of winter. In northern Quebec, caribou are on an epic 600 kilometre migration to reach their calving grounds. The calliope hummingbird, one of Canada's smallest, returns from Mexico to build her cup sized nest. And in Hay River, Northwest Territories, 3.5 million tons of ice break free and plow downstream, roaring over a 30-metre high waterfall. 

Take a visually stunning journey through the season of rebirth and new life. 

Ground War 

Troubled by the death of his father, filmmaker Andrew Nisker searches for answers as to why his remarkably healthy dad would have developed an environmental-related cancer: non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. 

Over the course of his journey, he discovers his father's golf course of forty years has been spraying toxic herbicides and pesticides on its grass for decades. Could all those chemicals have some connection to his father's illness? 

As he uncovers study after study that connects certain pesticides to cancer, Nisker wonders what risks we are prepared to take with our health just to kill dandelions.

Remarkable Rabbits 

There are more than 60 different kinds of wild rabbits and hares around the world, but despite their remarkable ability to reproduce, many species are actually in danger of being eradicated. These keystone species play a vital role in ecosystems from the Rocky Mountains to the deserts of Arizona, to the northern reaches of Canada's frozen boreal forest to the concrete jungle of downtown Chicago.

Meet a tenacious family of creatures so adorable they rarely get the respect they deserve. 

Stories From The Land 

Inspired by Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon's hit podcast series, Stories From The Land features four different Indigenious communities and their connection to their land, culture and community. 

From the making of a traditional corn soup to a look at the importance of the humble birch tree, "these stories are love letters to the places we are from," says McMahon.

The Gardener

Nestled in the rolling hills of Quebec's Charlevoix region, Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents is one of the world's foremost private gardens. The work of three generations of Boston Cabots, it is a place of beauty and surprise, a 21st-century horticultural masterpiece that was opened to a film crew for the first time. 

What Trees Talk About 

The boreal forest is the Earth's largest land biome, covering half of Canada. It is also one of the most dynamic and influential ecosystems on the planet. "We have this general idea that trees are independent individuals," says ecologist Annie Desrochers, "But what we have discovered is that they're not independent, they will form unions."

We reveal the hidden social connections that allow trees to share food and water, wage war against common enemies and even create their own weather.

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