If you’ve ever seen a documentary series narrated by David Attenborough, you’ve almost surely seen the Birds of Paradise. They are a favorite of his, and many others around the world for their otherworldly, almost ethereal appearance, sounds, and behaviors. In this episode, we explore their fascinating world and biology with Dr Bruce Beehler, ornithologist and research associate of the Bird Division of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and expert on the Birds of Paradise. Follow him on Twitter @BruceMBeehler
Episode Outline/Questions Answered:
- How many species are there of Birds of Paradise and where do they live?
- What exactly is a Bird of Paradise?
- Where did they come from? (evolutionarily speaking)
- Why here? And how?
- Variations between species in nesting, diet, and courtship behavior
- Sexual Dimorphism
- How do they make such vivid colorations?
- How has natural selection led to the males engaging in such intricate courtship displays and having such bizarre colorations?
- Role of beauty
- Great unknowns
- Notes on Conservation