One of the most unique species of bird on earthThese unusual birds were spoken of as early as the 16th century. They were admired by European sailors and merchants, to whom the natives were the first to show the unusually beautiful bird feathers. The inhabitants of the Malay Archipelago called these birds "manuk dewata" or "bolong diuata" - the birds of the god. Portuguese sailors called them the birds of the sun, and the name of birds of paradise was probably given by the Dutch traveler and historian Jan van Linschoten, who sailing in the areas where they occurred, was delighted by the colorful birds soaring in the skies.
1.Birds of paradise are members of the family Paradisaeidae of the order Passeriformes.
Passeriformes are the largest order of birds, comprising about 6200 species - more than half of all bird species found today. They have adapted to life in most terrestrial habitats on all continents except Antarctica.
2.They are found in the Moluccas (Spice Islands - a group of islands in the eastern part of the Malay Archipelago, part of Indonesia), New Guinea and northeastern Australia.
They are most abundant on New Guinea, with only the genus Lycocorax and Semioptera being endemic to the Moluccas. However, two species of Ptiloris are endemic to Australia. One is found exclusively in New Guinea, the other in New Guinea and Australia. Many species of birds of paradise occupy very restricted habitats, e.g., the Black sicklebill, found only in the middle mountains of New Guinea (1000-2000 m), and the Brown sicklebill is endemic to the Indonesian islands of Batanta and Waigeo.
3.Most species live in tropical, mist, mangrove forests, and swamps.
Almost all inhabit trees, but they can also be found closer to the forest floor. Manucodes, especially the glossy-mantled manucode, can live in both forests and open savanna. Most birds of paradise live in environments where humans are present.
4.The birds of paradise are very diverse, but characteristic of them is the extremely colorful plumage and the presence of very ornamental feathers, sometimes on the head and sometimes in the tail.
There is strong sexual dimorphism in birds of paradise - females are less colorful, with grays dominating in their plumage.The purpose of such inconspicuous coloration is to be able to blend in with the environment. Younger males resemble females, and it takes them about 7 years to develop beautiful colors. This makes it easier for them to hide from predators and adult males do not treat them as competitors.
5.Male birds of paradise often have special tail feathers that resemble swirling strings, wires, or a wide plume.
They may also have a very large crest on their head. Many species also have impressive breast shields and fans on their heads.
6.Some species have unusual black feathers, which are considered the darkest material found in nature.
They are so dark that they almost completely absorb light (99.95%). This feather blackness is not far behind the blackest manmade material created in the lab, called vantablack (created by British researchers at the National Physical Laboratory).
7.Male birds of paradise are not monogamous. They use their colorful, fancy plumage to attract successive females.
Most males prepare an arena for mating dance on the cleared of sticks ground or in the treetops. Some strip leaves from branches to make their mating dance clearly visible.A common part of such a dance is "standing on their heads," with their beak tilted as low as possible and their tail raised high and spread out. They also spread their wings, puff out their breasts and perform spectacular turns. They make various sounds: loud chirping, whistling, buzzing.
8.There are also males, such as the Raggiana bird of paradise, that perform their mating dance in a group of several to as many as 20 individuals.
So the females can choose. Unfortunately, the female is later left alone, the whole effort of raising the offspring falls on her.
9.Male birds of paradise also cross interspecies boundaries in their amorous conquests.
From eggs hybrids are hatched (quite a rare phenomenon in animals living in the wild). Ornithologists have counted over 20 types of such hybrids in birds of paradise.
10.Their wings are mostly round.
In some species, they have been modified in such a way that males can use them to generate characteristic sounds.