Papua New Guinea: Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise are a family of birds that are endemic to the island of New Guinea – of the 42 known species, 41 are in Papua New Guinea or Papuan Indonesia and only one in Northern Australia. Birds of paradise are like the holy grail of birding – most birders are likely to sacrifice their first-born to see the birds of paradise. The males of the birds of paradise exhibit insane plumage with super long and highly decorative feathers growing on their tail, head, and even eyebrows – all part of impressing those special female birds of paradise. In Papua New Guinea they have been hunted for over 1000 years for the plumage to be used in the warrior costumes, and hence the birds are rather elusive and hard to spot or get close to. David Attenborough spent over 3 months filming them, while I only had a few days – but with luck on my side, I got to see 5 species in the wild: Ribbon-tailed astrapia (m & f), Brown sicklebill (m), Princess Stephany astrapia (m), King of saxony (m), and Lawes’s parotia (f). And the one that is on the Papuan flag – Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise – I got to see at the aviary in Port Moresby (and 4 times in the heads of Huli Wigmen).