The birds of paradise are members of the family Paradisaeidae. There are 41 species, found mainly in New Guinea, with a few in the Maluku Islands and eastern Australia. For the most part they are confined to dense rainforest habitat. The diet is dominated by fruit and a lesser extent arthropods. A number of species are threatened by hunting and habitat loss.
Birds-of-paradise range in size from the king bird-of-paradise at 50 g and 15 cm to the curl-crested manucode at 44 cm and 430 g. The male black sicklebill, with its long tail, is the longest species at 110 cm. In most species, the tails of the males are larger and longer than the female. The wings are rounded and in some species structurally modified on the males in order to make sound. Bills may be long and decurved. Younger males of some species have female-like plumage, and sexual maturity takes a long time, with the full adult plumage not being obtained for up to seven years. This affords the younger males the protection from predators of more subdued colours, and also reduces hostility from adult males.
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. 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 such displays can last for hours.
Credits: National Geographic, Wikipedia.