Birds of paradise are found almost exclusively in New Guinea. Spanning over 300,000 square miles, the island is blanketed in thick tropical forests, providing a perfect home for these strange, remarkable birds.
New Guinea houses the third largest rainforest in the world, after the Amazon and Congo.
During a display, the King bird of paradise will puff up his plumes and flick his two wire-like tail quills from side to side.
Greater birds of paradise often display in groups, inviting the females to choose the most impressive from a wide assortment of males. This is known as lek-mating.
The Parotia bird of paradise is also known as the Six-plumed bird of paradise because of his six head quills.
Parotia’s have some of the most complex courtship displays in the animal kingdom. During his hypnotic dance, the male adjusts his flank plumes to resemble a tutu before performing a series of movements on a cleared patch of forest floor.
To impress the female, the Magnificent bird of paradise gently pulses, puffing out his emerald breast feathers.
The Magnificent bird of paradise has two curlicue feathers sprouting from its tail.
One of the defining features of the Wilson’s bird of paradise is his lack of head plumes, revealing a bright blue skin tone.
Some males completely transform themselves during their displays. The Superb bird of paradise snaps his breast and back plumes forward until his head is surrounded by a giant black and blue ellipse.
Bird of paradise plumes are highly valued by the New Guinea people and adorn the spectacular headdresses used in traditional dances and religious ceremonies.
More than simply decorative, the plumes are treated as currency in many tribal communities.
By tracking what plumes are most popular among the locals, conservationists can better assess what birds of paradise are most in need of protection.
The Blue bird of paradise is a soloist, preferring to display without other males nearby. During his display, the Blue Bird hangs upside down and fans out his blue and violet flank plumes.
When approached by a female, the male bird of paradise releases a soft and low buzzing sound.