|Bird of Paradise|
Lesser Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea minor
|13, see list below|
The birds of paradise are members of the family Paradisaeidae of the order Passeriformes. They are found in Australasia regions of eastern Indonesia, New Guinea and northeastern Australia. The member of this family are perhaps best known for the striking plumage possessed by the male of most species, which are used in courtship displays in order to attract females. Many species also have highly elongated and elaborate feathers extending from the tail, wings or head. Despite this extravagant plumage, they are anatomically among the most primitive songbirds.
The best known for their plumage are the species of the genus Paradisaea, including the type species the Greater Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea apoda. This species was described from specimens brought back to Europe from trading expeditions. These specimens had been prepared by native traders by removing their wings and feet, which led to the belief that the birds never landed but were kept permanently aloft by their plumes. This gave both the name "birds of paradise" and the specific name apoda - without feet.
Most species have elaborate mating rituals, with the Paradisaea species having a Lek-type mating system. Others, such as the Cicinnurus and Parotia species, have highly ritualized mating dances, with Parotia species presenting ballet tutu-like display plumage in a dance that is among the most astounding behaviors of all birds due to its completely accidental, but nonetheless uncanny resemblance to hula and limbo dances.
Due to the peculiarities of their mating system, birds of paradise are among the birds where hybrids most frequently occur, together with ducks and hummingbirds, which both also have highly ornamental plumage in males and often form groups for mating purposes. Some scholars merge this family together with the Corvidae.
Use by humans
The native societies of New Guinea often use bird of paradise plumes in their dress and rituals, and the plumes were very important in Europe in ladies' millinery in past centuries. Hunting for plumes and habitat destruction has reduced some species to endangered status. Habitat destruction due to deforestation is the predominant reason today. Hunting for their plumes for millinery was a significant factor in the late 19th and early 20th century, but as of today, they enjoy legal protection and hunting is only permitted at a sustainable level to fulfil the ceremonial needs of the local tribal population. As for Pteridophora plumes, scavenging from old bowerbird bowers is encouraged. When King Mahendra of Nepal was crowned in 1955, it was found that the bird of paradise plumes of the Nepali royal crown were in need of replacement. Due to the hunting ban, replacements were eventually procured from a confiscated shipment seized by United States Customs.
Hunting of birds of paradise has occurred for a long time, possibly since the beginning of human settlement. It is a peculiarity that among the most frequently-hunted species, males start mating opportunistically even before they grow their ornamental plumage. This may be an adaptation maintaining population levels in the face of hunting pressures, which have in all probability been present since 30 millennia.
Bird of paradise could also be found in Malaysia. They are highly sought after by traditional healers for medical purposes. In Malaysia these endangered birds are called Cendrawasih.
Species of Paradisaeidae
- Paradise Crow, Lycocorax pyrrhopterus
- Glossy-mantled Manucode, Manucodia atra
Jobi Manucode, Manucodia jobiensis
Crinkle-collared Manucode, Manucodia chalybata
Curl-crested Manucode, Manucodia comrii
Trumpet Manucode, Manucodia keraudrenii
- Long-tailed Paradigalla, Paradigalla carunculata
Short-tailed Paradigalla, Paradigalla brevicauda
- Arfak Astrapia, Astrapia nigra
Splendid Astrapia, Astrapia splendidissima
Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Astrapia mayeri
Stephanie's Astrapia, Astrapia stephaniae
Huon Astrapia, Astrapia rothschildi
- Western Parotia, Parotia sefilata
Carola's Parotia, Parotia carolae
Berlepsch's Parotia, Parotia berlepschi
Lawes's Parotia, Parotia lawesii
Eastern Parotia, Parotia helenae
Wahnes's Parotia, Parotia wahnesi
- King of Saxony Bird of Paradise, Pteridophora alberti
- Superb Bird of Paradise, Lophorina superba
- Magnificent Riflebird, Ptiloris magnificus
Eastern Riflebird, Ptiloris intercedens
Paradise Riflebird, Ptiloris paradiseus
Victoria's Riflebird, Ptiloris victoriae
- Black Sicklebill, Epimachus fastuosus
Brown Sicklebill, Epimachus meyeri
Black-billed Sicklebill, Epimachus albertisi
Pale-billed Sicklebill, Epimachus bruijnii
Elliot's Bird of Paradise Epimachus ellioti
- May be extinct, or just a hybrid of Black Sicklebill (Epimachus fastuosus) and Arfak Astrapia (Astrapia nigra)
- Magnificent Bird of Paradise, Cicinnurus
Wilson's Bird of Paradise, Cicinnurus respublica
King Bird of Paradise, Cicinnurus regius
- Wallace's Standardwing, Semioptera wallacii
- Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Seleucidis melanoleuca
- Lesser Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea minor
Greater Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea apoda
Raggiana Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea raggiana
Goldie's Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea decora
Red Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea rubra
Emperor Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea guilielmi
Blue Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea rudolphi
- Loria's Bird-of-paradise, Cnemophilus loriae - may
not be in this family due to recent research 
Crested Bird-of-paradise, Cnemophilus macgregorii - may not be in this family due to recent research 
Yellow-breasted Bird-of-paradise, Loboparadisea sericea - may not be in this family due to recent research 
Macgregor's Bird-of-paradise, Macgregoria pulchra - recently found to be a honeyeater 
Lesser Melampitta, Melampitta lugubris - tentatively included in this group
Greater Melampitta, Melampitta gigantea - tentatively included in this group
- A Bird of paradise is depicted on the flag of Papua New Guinea.
- Birds of Paradise is one of the most favored cards in Magic: The Gathering.
- Frith, Clifford B. & Beehler, Bruce M. (1998): The Birds of Paradise: Paradisaeidae. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198548532