This Is For The Birds

This Is For The Birds

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Paradise Found (by Scholes & Laman)

Back in the middle of December of 2012, while standing in a long line at a regional hypermarket chain store, I scanned the magazine rack and found only one option: National Geographic’s December 2012 issue. The featured cover story—The World’s Largest Trees—immediately grabbed my interest. The magazine opened right up to a foldout poster of a giant sequoia. I had to page back for the beginning of the article, and I started reading about this tree named The President. After a few pages, it was finally almost my turn to check out. I was about to place the magazine back in the rack when something even more fascinating caught my eye: pictures of birds, pictures of birds of paradise. I closed the magazine to check for a price, but before I could find one, it flew from my hands and landed in my shopping cart.

Later that night, after reading Paradise Found, I went to National Geographic online to see if I could find further information. I didn’t. I did this morning though. See.

For the First Time, All 39 Species of Birds-of-Paradise Have Been Capture on Film
For centuries the bird-of-paradise has been a byword for exotic animals and faraway locales, but actually documenting this family has been near impossible. Now, thanks to 8 years and 18 expeditions into Australia, Papua New Guinea, and surrounding islands, the birds have finally all been recorded. (Click the link, then click the video starter arrow)

Birds-of-Paradise Project
The birds-of-paradise are among the most beautiful creatures on earth—and an extraordinary example of evolutionary adaptation. On this site you can find what few have witnessed in the wild: the displays of color, sound, and motion that make these birds so remarkable. Then you can delve deeper, examining the principles that guided their evolution and the epic adventure it took to bring you all 39 species. (Click the link, click the “Introduction” tab, and then click the video starter arrow)

By the Numbers
What does it take to come home from New Guinea with images of all 39 species of birds-of-paradise? Summing it up in two numbers—18 expeditions and 8 years—tells only part of the story. Numbers like 544 days, 109 blinds, and 39,568 photos give a little more perspective. Take a look at more numbers from the project to sense some of the energy and dedication that were required behind the scenes. (Click the link, then click the video starter arrow)

Scientist Bios
Edwin Scholes—Evolutionary Biologist
Tim Laman—Wildlife Photojournalist and Field Biologist