Bird of paradise
|Birds of paradise|
Many species of birds of paradise are known for the males' extravagant breeding plumage; the different species display a staggering number of feather forms, such as brilliant colours, long "wires," broad fans, tufted flanks, and metre-long tails.
The best known for their plumage are the species of the genus Paradisaea, including the type species, Paradisaea apoda, the greater bird of paradise. This species was described from specimens brought back to Europe from trading expeditions. These specimens had been prepared by native traders by removing their wings and feet, which led to the belief that the birds never landed but were kept permanently aloft by their plumes. This gave both the name "birds of paradise" and the specific name apoda - without feet.
The native societies of New Guinea often use bird of paradise plumes in their dress and rituals, and the plumes were very important in Europe in ladies' millinery in past centuries. Predation for plumes and habitat destruction has reduced some species to endangered status.
Some scholars merge this family together with the Corvidae.
The common name of the flowering plant Strelitzia is birds of paradise as well.