After 8 years and 18 expeditions, Ed Scholes (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) and Tim Laman (National Geographic photographer) have succeeded in capturing on film, images of all 39 species of birds of paradise.  These remarkable creatures are endemic to New Guinea, an island in the Pacific Ocean on the northern edge of the same tectonic plate as Australia.

Here is the introduction to the project, from which this article derives its name.

The birds are organised into 15 genera that can be explored with this interactive graphic.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has documented the acoustics of these birds, which are utilised by males to attract their mates to a display site during courtship.  Acoustics are also incorporated into their elaborate displays, and a full sound gallery is available here.

Their most spectacular feature is the complete performance.  They lay the stage, practice their moves, welcome the ladies, and work it.

Finally, all 39 species are captured on film for the first time in history.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a female bird-of-paradise (yep, you know what’s coming.) Which male would you choose?

View the candidates here and take the SurroundScience I-dig-them-moves poll!

Image credits: Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise by Doug Janson, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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