• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote® – Birds of Paradise

Air Date: Week of December 2, 2011

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

A Greater Bird of Paradise Gets a Treat. (Photo: Ā© Andrea Lawardi)

There are more than 40 species of Birds of Paradise on the Indonesian island New Guinea. As Mary McCann reports, many of the males have exotic plumage and go all out to attract a mate.

Transcript

[MUSIC: BIRD NOTE® THEME]

GELLERMAN: Animals often go to great lengths to attract the opposite sex, but one of our very finest feathered friends offers a unique perspective on the mating game as BirdNote®'s Mary McCann reports.

[SOUNDS OF NEW GUINEA FOREST AND RAGGIANA BIRD OF PARADISE CROWING]

MCCANN: It is early morning on the island of New Guinea. The lowland forests erupt with the crowing calls of male Raggiana Birds of Paradise.


Plumes of the Raggiana Bird of Paradise. (Photo: © Mark A. Harper)

[SOUNDS OF RAGGIANA BIRD OF PARADISE, HIGH PITCHED, FAST CALLS]

MCCANN: Groups of male Raggiana Birds of Paradise perform elaborate displays to attract females. The size of small crows, the males have a yellow head, bright green throat, and a lush mass of fine, russet-orange plumes that hang well beyond their tails. In a sequence known as the “flower display,” the males hang upside down with their wings flexed downward, while flaunting those lustrous russet plumes upward.

[SOUNDS OF RAGGIANA BIRD OF PARADISE]

MCCANN: “Birds of Paradise”—an aptly exotic name for this most varied and extravagantly decorated group of birds. All forty-three species are found on New Guinea, or nearby. Picture one named the Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, as it flies along the forest edge.


No less than beautiful is a Lesser Bird of Paradise. (Photo: © Roderick Elme)

With an emerald-green head and velvety black body, the Astrapia trails two slender, white tail-plumes a full three feet behind its body. They undulate like fine ribbons in the breeze.

[SOUNDS OF RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA]

GELLERMAN: That’s Mary McCann of BirdNote®. To see some photos of Birds of Paradise, flap over to our website loe.org.

[MUSIC: Charlie Parker “Bird Of Paradise” from The Very Best Of The Dial Years (Stardust Records 2009).]

 

Links

BirdNoteĀ® Birds of Paradise was written by Bob Sundstrom.

Calls of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Raggiana Bird of Paradise and Ribbon-tailed Astrapia recorded by Eleanor Brown.

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.