Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Birds of Paradise Project

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birds of Paradise Project
Fifteen of the 39 species of birds of paradise
Kudos to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for launching its Birds of Paradise Project on the Internet. Thirty-nine species of these incredible birds live in Papua New Guinea and after 8 years of determined field work, Ed Scholes (Cornell) and Tim Laman (National Geographic) captured them all on film. If you remember the scene in Planet Earth with the excited little black bird with a blue bib that inflates himself into a large fan and dances all over a log to impress a female, then you've seen one of these spectacular birds.

You can get an introduction to the project here:

 These are some seriously good looking birds and you can also see footage of all 39 species here:

I encourage you to explore the project and see for yourself how sexual selection has produced such unique species.

 Amazingly, the birds of paradise have so far avoided the species crisis and none are listed among recent extinctions. So far, they have avoided the fate of many parrots and parakeets of being loved to death, or suffered from invasive species that took such a toll on the Hawaiian honeycreepers and honeyeaters. But deforestation is a problem in Papua New Guinea and it will be a tragedy if we let it affect these incredible birds the way it is affecting orangutans in Indonesia.