A lesser bird of paradise flaunts his flank plumes to entice females. www.timlaman.com
A lesser bird of paradise flaunts his flank plumes to entice females. www.timlaman.com

Paradise Found

Nine years ago, two men began an extraordinary quest: to be the first to find and document all 39 species of the legendary birds of paradise. After 18 expeditions and over 39,000 photographs, their vision is complete.

In New Guinea kangaroos climb trees, and butterflies the size of Frisbees dart through rain forests where egg-laying mammals scuttle across the muck. Frogs sport noses like Cyrano’s, and the rivers are full of rainbow fish.

Yet none of New Guinea’s wild wonders have fascinated scientists as deeply as the creatures that 19th-century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace called “the most extraordinary and the most beautiful of the feathered inhabitants of the earth”: the birds of paradise.

The 39 species are found only in New Guinea and a few nearby areas, and despite decades of exploration and research, no one had ever succeeded in seeing them all—until now.

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