The Birds of Paradise

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Wide varieties of birds exist on earth, some are identified for their beautiful songs, some for their keen senses and sharp vision whereas many of them are known for their colorful and vibrant plumage that instantly make the surroundings bright. Birds of Paradise are the male bird species well known for their colorful and bright plumage. Their feathers are long, elongated and cover most of the body of bird from head, beak to wings. These species are mostly found on the island of New Guinea and its other connected satellite islands. Some species of Birds of Paradise also exist in eastern Australia and Moluccas. A study of their mitochondrial DNA which was conducted in 2009 on different bird species reveals the family of Birds of Paradise came into existence more than 24 million years ago. Around 40 species in 14 genera of Birds of Paradise are currently in existence. Majority of these birds live in rainforests and feed on arthropods, fruits, berries, insects, lizards and frogs. The New Guinea government opened the capture and export of three species of Birds of Paradise (Count Raggia's Bird of Paradise, Magnificent Bird of Paradise and Superb Bird of Paradise) in 1987  initiating the propagation of these species through Honolulu Zoo.




What is the scientific classification of Birds of Paradise?

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Suborder: Passeri

Family: Paradisaeidae




What are the physical characteristics of Birds of Paradise?

The extraordinary plumage drape of these birds, make Birds of Paradise the most beautiful and attractive of all the bird species. The feather colors vary from red to black, iridescent green to orange and from brown to muted or subdued shades. The plumage varies depending upon the sex and mostly the male has the most brilliant feathers. The birds share some characteristics with crow such as their strong beak, strong feet, toes, loud voices and high flying endurance. The birds of paradise are known for flying with stable and slow speed and do not migrate. Their size ranges from anything between 50 gm in weight and 15 cm height (King Bird of Paradise) to 430 gms in  weight and 44 cm height ( Curl-crested Manucode). They are  solitary birds taht live on trees. Along with their colrful plummage they have some really interesting voices, which  vary from loud shrill,  call,  prolonged whistle to harsh shriek.



Where do Birds of Paradise live?

Most of the Bird of Paradise families are found in tropical forests such as swamps, moss forests, and rainforest. Some of the species are also inhabitants of coastal mangroves. Some of the southernmost species such as the Australian Paradise Riflebird inhabit in the temperate and sub-tropical areas of wet forests. The Manucodes group of Birds of Paradise is densely attached to their habitat, especially the Glossy mantled Manucode that are only found in open savanna woodland and forest. The mid-montane habitats are home to more than 40 Birds of Paradise species that are prominently found in between the 1000-2000 m altitudinal band.



What is the significance of vibrant feathers of Birds of Paradise?

The elongated and vibrant feathers of male species are known as streamers or wires. There are some families that display elaborate head plumes or exclusive ornamental feather arrangement like the head fans or breast shields. All these decorations act as weapon for attracting females. Males put up a good display of all these attributes by dancing elaborately in different poses and carrying out various rituals so that the female gets attracted towards him. Such displays can continue for hours together and most of the Birds of Paradise male species exhaust major part of their lifetime in these activities.




How do Birds of Paradise reproduce?

Birds of Paradise display both monogamy and polygamy. The species that follow polygamy display dimorphic appearance. In these species the females look dull and plain. On the contrary, the males have colorful and bright plumage. In polygamy, only females build nest and take care of the young ones. In contrast to this, the monogamous species look almost similar in appearance-dull feathered and both the male and female raise the young ones together. Mostly two eggs are laid at one time that is incubated by the female. The hatchlings can be naked or with some plumage.


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