Thursday, June 24, 2010
The birds-of-paradise are members of the family Paradisaeidae of the order Passeriformes. The majority of species in this family are found on the island of New Guinea and its satellites, with a few species occurring in the Moluccas of Indonesia and eastern Australia. The family has forty species in 13 genera. The members of this family are perhaps best known for the plumage of the males of most species, in particular highly elongated and elaborate feathers extending from the beak, wings or head. For the most part they are confined to dense rainforest habitat. The diet of all species is dominated by fruit and to a lesser extent arthropods. The birds-of-paradise have a variety of breeding systems, ranging from monogamy to lek based polygamy.
The family is of cultural importance to the inhabitants of New Guinea. The trade in skins and feathers of the birds-of-paradise has been going on for two thousand years, and the birds have been of considerable interest to western collectors, ornithologists and writers as well. A number of species are threatened by hunting and habitat loss.