Birds of paradise are found in New Guinea and surrounding islands. The manucodes and riflebirds species also dwell in Australia. Birds of paradise are so attractive that their appearance once made them the target of skin hunters, who decimated some species.
There are more than three dozen species in the family Paradisaeidae, forty (40) species in 14 genera., more commonly known as the birds of paradise. Most are distinguished by striking colors and bright plumage of yellow, blue, scarlet, and green. These colors distinguish them as some of the world’s most dramatic and attractive birds. Males often sport vibrant feathered ruffs or amazingly elongated feathers, which are known as wires or streamers. Some species have enormous head plumes or other distinctive ornaments, such as breast shields or head fans.
Birds of paradise are generally crow-like in general body-form, and, indeed, are the brother group to the corvids (crows and jays). Birds-of-paradise range in size from the King Bird-of-paradise at 50 g (1.8 oz) and 15 cm (5.9 in) to the Curl-crested Manucode at 44 cm (17 in) and 430 g (15 oz). The male Black Sicklebill, with its long tail, is the longest species at 110 cm (43 in). In most species, the tails of the males are larger and longer than the female, the differences ranging from slight to extreme. The wings are rounded and in some species structurally modified on the males in order to make sound. There is considerable variation in the family with regard to bill shape. Bills may be long and decurved, as in the sicklebills and riflebirds, or small and slim like the Astrapias. As with body size on average bill size varies with reproduction(sex), although species where the females have larger bills than the male are more common, particularly in the insect eating species. For reasons of camouflage plumage of the females typically blends well with their habitat, unlike the bright attractive colors found on the males.
Males put their bright colors and unusual ornaments to good use when they display for females. Their elaborate dances, poses, and other rituals accentuate their appearance and put on a phenomenal show for both female birds and any humans lucky enough to be in the vicinity. Such displays can last for hours, and in many species they consume a significant part of the male’s time.
These birds also lend their name to a colorful flower. South Africa’s bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a member of the banana family. It sports a beautiful flower