‘Birds of Paradise’ Book Review

Editor's Picks
on November 11, 2012
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“Birds of Paradise”
By Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes
Hardcover, 227 pages ($50)

The birds of paradise found on the tropical island of New Guinea, with their explosively colorful, extravagant plumage, bizarre mating rituals and other puzzling behaviors, comprise one of the most extraordinary, exotic families of creatures on the planet. (The loopy 1965 novelty hit “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose” captured some of their spirit of zoological zaniness.) This handsome collection of 150 photos, culled over eight years and 18 expeditions by the authors, shows all 39 species for the first time, and is accompanied by an explanation of why the birds have captivated scientists for centuries, their significance to New Guinea culture, and other fascinating details about their lush, remote habitat, unlike any other place on Earth.

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