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Birds of Paradise

Superb Bird of Paradise

Even if you think birds are boring, please take just a moment to consider the Birds of Paradise. There are 39 different species of Birds of Paradise in total, and with their various shapeshifting, technicolour dance routines and faux-synthesiser shrieks these amazing birds make their native habitat of New Guinea look more like an acid house rave than a jungle.

It’s hard to comprehend that the head banging, hypnotic bouncing of the Magnificent Riflebird (2:56 in the above video) could be the result of a natural process of evolution, but that’s exactly what it is. Over a period of about 20 million years, these kinds of moves were gradually naturally selected for because the female of the species simply preferred men who did that.

That perhaps makes it even harder to understand the moves of the Superb Bird of Paradise. Besides having indisputably the best name ever, the Superb Bird of Paradise puts on a mating display that is so trippy, and frankly intimidating, it should surely make any sane bird run a mile. But no, apparently they love it!

No rave would be complete without some screaming synthesiser sound FX, and these are amply provided by the King of Saxony, who also has extremely long ‘head wires’ protruding from his head — again, purely for the ladies.

If all that is just far too weird to understand, you might at least be able to appreciate the paint-pot primary colours of Wilson’s Bird of Paradise. The baby blue on its head is actually the colour of its skin.

Wilson's Bird of Paradise

Find out more about these amazing birds at Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds of Paradise Project
More videos on their YouTube channel

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