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What are Birds-Of-Paradise?

By Alex Terris
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Birds-of-paradise are members of the Paradisaeidae family and are known for their attractive and distinctive plumage. Typically, birds-of-paradise live in rainforest regions, and most are found on the island of New Guinea. Another of the bird’s distinguishing features is their complex mating habits — males of many species perform intricate mating dances. Birds-of-paradise are close relatives of the crow family. Some examples of species include the Paradise crow and Western Parotia.

There are 40 different species of birds-of-paradise, with the vast majority native to New Guinea. There are also several species in Australia and Indonesia. Some species are widespread in the rainforests of New Guinea, but others are confined to relatively small regions depending on the exact habitat that they require.

The elaborate and bright coloring of the male plumage is for mating purposes. Males of many species use a number of techniques to display their colors, including posing and dancing. In some cases, these rituals can last for several hours. The males of most species are polygamous, which means they have more than one partner in a lifetime, but there is at least one species that is monogamous.

It is thought that all birds-of-paradise species nest in pairs rather than in large groups. Some species build nests on the ground, while others build in foliage. When a chick is born, it has no feathers and is almost completely helpless until it has gained strength. During this time, both parents will bring the chick food.

Birds-of-paradise have bodies which are very similar to crows. The largest is about 17 inches (44 cm) in height, while the smallest is only 6 inches (15cm). Plumage varies greatly between different species, as does the shape and size of the bill.

Typically, birds-of-paradise live mainly off fruit, although some species also eat small creatures. The diet of a particular bird depends on the exact species. For example, the Crested bird-of-paradise primarily eats insects, whereas other species get the majority of their nutrition from plants.

Due to the their attractive plumage, they have been regular targets for hunters who wish to sell their feathers. Despite this, there are no species that are currently thought to be endangered. It is possible, however, that this will change in the near future as more of the birds' habitat is destroyed. There are some species which are kept in aviaries, but the difficulty in breeding the birds has stopped them from becoming popular amongst amateurs.

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Discussion Comments
By Confish — On Dec 11, 2013
The male Blue Birds-of-Paradise are actually facing serious problems, thanks to both humans and deforestation. Unfortunately for the Blue Birds-of-Paradise, their numbers plummeted in the past due to the thousands of hunters who saw them as nothing more than beautiful trophies. Luckily, the hunting of these birds was eventually banned in Papua New Guinea. Today, their numbers are devastatingly low due to habitat loss. With land development at an all-time high, conservation efforts become more and more important in order to save the beautiful Blue Birds-of-Paradise.
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