The Birds of Paradise
The most spectacular birdplumages occur in the Birds of Paradise (Paradisaeidae) from the island of New Guinea. The King of Saxony (Pteridophora alberti)has two long quills from his forehead each bearing a line of enamelled blue pennants; the Superb Bird (Lophorina superba) has an immense emerald shield which it can expand until it is as broad as the bird is tall; the Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise (Seleucidis melanoleuca) has a shimmering green bib and a huge inflatable yellow waistcoat with bare quills, the wires of its name, curling down behind it. The most celebrated birds of paradise are those possessing plumes arising from beneath their wing coverts. There are several species, each with a plume of a different colour (yellow, red or white). These birds display communally, with dance displays being held in a prominent position on a branch which has had twigs and leaves stripped off it. In this way a dull coloured female is attract and she flits across to the branch where one of the male birds jumps aggressively onto her back. Copulation is quick, and the female returns to the nest that she has already prepared for her now fertilized eggs. The male birds which had been burdened with the plumes for several months now losses them.