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Interesting facts about Birds of Paradise

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We found 23 interesting facts about miracle birds

Birds of paradise

People started talking about these unusual birds already in the 18th century. They were admired by European sailors and merchants, to whom the natives were the first to show incredibly beautiful bird feathers. The inhabitants of the Malay Archipelago called these birds “manuk devata” or “bolong diuata” - birds of God. Portuguese sailors called them sunbirds, and the name birds of paradise was probably given by the Dutch traveler and historian Jan van Linschoten, who, while traveling through their habitats, was fascinated by the colorful birds soaring in the sky. Polish naturalists called them miracle birds.


Birds of paradise (Paradisaeidae) are a family of birds from the passerine order (Passeriformes).

Passeriformes are the largest order of birds, with about 6200 species, or more than half of all bird species found today. They have adapted to live in most terrestrial habitats on all continents except Antarctica. They stand out among other birds by their characteristic structure of the palate, larynx and legs. They are usually small or medium-sized birds with a wide variety of shapes, colors and lifestyles.

Wonderbirds are found on the Maluku Islands (including the Spice Islands, a group of islands in the eastern part of the Malay Archipelago, part of Indonesia), New Guinea and northeastern Australia.

The largest number of them is found in New Guinea; only the genus Lycocorax and Semioptera are endemic to the Moluccas. Two species of Ptiloris (ornamental) are endemic to Australia. One of them is found only in New Guinea, the other - in New Guinea and Australia. Many parrot species occupy very limited ranges, for example the great long-tailed kite is found only in the middle mountains of New Guinea (1000-2000 m), and the red-backed kite is endemic to the Indonesian islands of Batanta and Waigeo.

Most species live in tropical forests, cloud forests (low intertropical forest found in mountainous areas where water vapor constantly condenses), mangrove forests and swamps.

Almost all of them live in trees, but they can also be found closer to the forest floor. The folded crow, especially the black folded crow, can live in both forests and open savanna. Most birds of paradise live in environments where humans are present.

Birds of paradise are very diverse, but they are characterized by extremely colorful plumage and the presence of very decorative feathers, sometimes on the head and sometimes on the tail.

Parrots have strong sexual dimorphism - females are less colorful, gray color predominates in their plumage. The purpose of such an inconspicuous coloring is to blend in with the environment and not be noticeable. Young males resemble females and take about 7 years to achieve beautiful coloration. Thanks to this, it is easier for them to hide from predators, and adult males do not treat them as competitors.

Male parrots often have special tail feathers that resemble sinuous lines, wires, or a wide train.

They may also have a very large crest on their head. Many species also have pectoral shields and a fan on the head.

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%). Scientists compare them to a black hole, which also has these properties. This blackness of feathers is not much inferior to the blackest material ever created by man in a laboratory, called vantablack (created by British researchers at the National Physical Laboratory).

This colorful, intricate plumage is used by male birds of paradise to acquire new mates, as they are not monogamous.

Most males fight alone, preparing an arena on cleared ground or in the treetops. Some (the golden-backed kite) pluck leaves from the branches so that their mating dance can be clearly visible. A common element of this dance is “standing on the head,” with the beak tilted as low as possible and the tail raised as high as possible. They also spread their wings, puff out their chests and perform impressive turns. They make various sounds: loud singing, whistling, buzzing.

There are also males, such as the ruddy parakeet, that perform their mating dance in groups of a few to even 20 individuals.

So women can choose. Unfortunately, the female is then left alone, and all efforts to raise the offspring fall on the female.

Male Birds of Paradise also cross species boundaries in their amorous conquests.

The eggs then hatch into hybrids (a fairly rare occurrence among animals living in the wild). Among birds of paradise, ornithologists have identified more than 20 types of such hybrids.

Among the Birds of Paradise you can find specimens that are very different in many respects.

The longest species is the large long-tailed, which can reach a length of 110 cm, most of which is the tail. The smallest in length is the royal kite, measuring 16-19 cm. The tails of males are usually longer than those of females.

Birds of Paradise have wings with rounded edges.

In some species, they have evolved so much that males can use them to create characteristic sounds.

There are significant differences in the structure of the beaks of Birds of Paradise.

In some (ornamented, long-tailed) it resembles the beak of a raven, in others it is thin and small (astrapia). The size of the beak depends on the sex, but there are cases where females have larger beaks (most often in insectivorous species).

Among the birds of paradise there are also monogamous birds, such as faudours and rakes.

Both females and males have the same coloration, do not differ in appearance, live in stable relationships and raise offspring together.

Birds feed on fruits and arthropods, and some feed on nectar and small vertebrates.

There are some of them (black and fiery flat-nosed ones) that feed only on fruits, but there are also typical predators. In their search for food, they are helped by their curved beaks, which they use to find invertebrates hidden in the bark of trees. Insectivorous ornamentals can tap dead tree trunks with their strong beaks, much like woodpeckers. Fruit eaters often remain at the tops of trees, while insectivores feed in the lower parts.

Certain species of birds of paradise prefer certain fruits.

For example, the steelhead and green-tailed crow feed primarily on figs, while the white-fronted chicken feeds primarily on berries.

By eating fruits whose seeds they cannot digest, they help spread them.

The seeds are excreted in feces and germinate in moist soil, making parrots brilliant jungle seeders.

Birds of Paradise make many sounds and sing loudly.

They sing to call a partner, mark their territory, or warn in case of danger.

Birds of paradise build nests from leaves and ferns, usually in the fork of a tree. The nest resembles a deep bowl.

It is not known exactly how many eggs the female Wonder Egg lays, but it appears to be 1-3. The eggs incubate for 16-22 days, and the chicks leave the nest after 16-30 days. The female takes care of the offspring herself, and the male does not participate in the construction of the nest.

There is no information about the lifespan of parrots in the wild, but in captivity they live for about 30 years.


Birds of paradise feathers are used by the indigenous people of New Guinea to decorate ritual costumes, trains and funeral ceremonies.

At the turn of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, European women willingly decorated their headdresses with the colorful feathers of these birds.

The Ruddy Parrot is featured on the coat of arms and flag of Papua New Guinea.


Fortunately, most Birds of Paradise are not in danger of extinction.

This threat exists only for three species. Birds of paradise were protected quite early on. Thanks to the British Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Audubon Society of America, hunting these birds for export purposes was banned back in 1908. Previously, up to 40 copies were sold in London alone. stuffed birds per year. In the year 1917, the import of bird of paradise feathers into England was banned. New Guinea later banned hunting, and finally Indonesia banned trade in birds and feathers. The parrots themselves are equipped with a tool of protection from humans - polygamy, which exists among these birds. The captured birds were beautifully colored (this occurs at the age of 5-7 years), and they become sexually mature in the second year, so they can reproduce without being persecuted by humans. Thus, miracle bees have survived more than 500 years of contact with Western civilization.

In 1760, Carl Linnaeus named the largest bird of paradise Paradisea apoda, meaning "legless bird of paradise".

At that time, no one in Europe saw a living miracle. Linnaeus received only skins and stuffed animals from New Guinea. These specimens had no legs. Decades later, Europeans discovered that the superstitious Papuans, after hunting, cut off the bird's legs and buried them as an offering to the gods. And so Linnaeus fell for this bait.
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