Birds of paradise: revealing the world's most extraordinary birds.
Washington DC: National Geographic Society, 2012.
Oblong format, dustwrapper, 228 pp. colour photographs, maps.
Photographer Tim Laman is the first person to photograph all bird of paradise species and probably also the first person to see all species in the wild. Legendary naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace once observed, "The bird of paradise really deserves its name and must be ranked as one of the most beautiful and most wonderful of living things." In this dazzling photographic essay, Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes explain why, presenting gorgeous full-colour photographs of all 39 species of the Birds of paradise that highlight their unique and extraordinary plumage and mating behaviour. The authors take you into the depths of the remote New Guinea rainforest to find each of these birds, some of which have never before been photographed. In pursuit, the authors pose answers to questions raised by eminent evolutionary biologists such as Ernst Mayr: "How can natural selection favour, one might almost say permit, the evolution of such conspicuously bizarre plumes and displays? How can it permit such 'absurd exaggerations', as one is almost tempted to call them? How can it happen that apparently closely related species and genera differ so drastically in their habits and colorations?" Field notes, conservation success stories, and observations of native peoples' interactions with these magnificent birds provide a rich feast for birders, naturalists, and any one who is seduced by the power and majesty of the natural world.