One of the earliest pioneers of wildlife photography and filmmaking, Oliver Pike started capturing stills of flowers and birds from an early age. In 1900, his book, In Birdland with Field Glass and Camera was released, the first of some twenty five natural history publications he released over the course of his career.
Enlisting a number of innovative strategies to film animals in their natural habitat, Oliver made use of hides and various forms of camouflage. In 1895, together with famous ornithologist Reginald B. Lodge, he developed an effective technique in which wild birds tripped a camera shutter and took their own pictures.
Embracing the early cinematography industry, his groundbreaking first film, In Birdland (1907), was shown to paying audiences in London, the first British wildlife film to be screened to the public. Hugely popular, over 100 additional prints were made so it could be screened in cinemas around the U.K., but sadly, all copies of this pioneering film seem to have subsequently been lost or destroyed.
In a career spanning over half a century Oliver generated a huge body of work. From early works such as St Kilda, Its People and Its Birds (1908) to Plants and Animals Living Together (1950), he produced over fifty films. He was director of photography for the Pathé Frères Company (1910-1920) and in 1921 joined British Instructional Films (BIF). Working on Secrets Of Nature, an innovative set of single reeled educational films, he recorded a wealth of animal behaviour never captured on film before. Secrets of Nature: The Cuckoo's Secret (1922) was particularly influential and is credited with changing the public's perception of how cuckoos reproduce.
An ardent conservationist, Oliver was opposed to the collection of eggs, shooting and blood sports. Passionate about British wildlife, he was a popular speaker on the subject and lectured all over the country.