A superb bird of paradise (Lophorina superba) photographed at Houston Zoo in Texas
A superb bird of paradise (Lophorina superba) photographed at Houston Zoo in Texas
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Birds of Paradise

Common Name:
Birds of Paradise
Scientific Name:
Paradisaeidae
Type:
Birds
Size:
4.75 to 39 inches

There are more than three dozen species in the family Paradisaeidae, more commonly known as the birds of paradise.

Colorful Characteristics

Most are distinguished by striking colors and bright plumage of yellow, blue, scarlet, and green. These colors distinguish them as some of the world's most dramatic and attractive birds. Males often sport vibrant feathered ruffs or amazingly elongated feathers, which are known as wires or streamers. Some species have enormous head plumes or other distinctive ornaments, such as breast shields or head fans.

Mating Rituals

Males put their bright colors and unusual ornaments to good use when they display for females. Their elaborate dances, poses, and other rituals accentuate their appearance and put on a phenomenal show for both female birds and any humans lucky enough to be in the vicinity. Such displays can last for hours, and in many species they consume a significant part of the male's time.

Population Range

Birds of paradise are found in New Guinea and surrounding islands. The manucodes and riflebirds species also dwell in Australia. Birds of paradise are so attractive that their appearance once made them the target of skin hunters, who decimated some species.

These birds also lend their name to a colorful flower. South Africa's bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a member of the banana family. It sports a beautiful flower believed to resemble the avian bird of paradise in flight.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Angela Skrivanek, National Geographic Your Shot

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