Cover image for The birds of paradise : Paradisaeidae
The birds of paradise : Paradisaeidae
Frith, Clifford B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xxx, 613 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL696.P26 F75 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Birds of paradise have long played a central role in the mythologies, ceremonies, dress and dance of the peoples of New Guinea and its neighbouring islands. For the few centuries that these magnificent birds have been known outside of Australasia, their striking nuptial plumages and elaboratecourtship rituals have captured the imagination of collectors, scientists, and naturalists throughout the world. The first part of the book provides a comprehensive and scientifically accurate overview of the biology, ecology, and history of the group, written so as to be interesting and accessibleto the lay-reader as well as the scientist. The authors' intimate observations of the birds have enabled them to describe for the first time how the extravagant tails and plumage are used in courtship and mating as well as to describe their nesting biology, about which little has been writtenpreviously. The role of the birds of paradise in human culture and tradition is explored in chapter 7, and a final chapter discusses issues of conservation and threats to the survival of these unique and beautiful birds. The second part of the book consists of species accounts of the 42 species ofbirds of paradise, describing their plumage, size, habitat, distribution, and behaviour in detail and accompanied by distribution maps and sonograms. 12 superb colour plates by William T. Cooper, one of the world's most acclaimed bird artists, illustrate all the species, their known hybrids, andmany juveniles and sub-species. His original fine line provide a vivid record of how the birds use their famous ornaments during reproductive behaviour. As with the other books in the Oxford Bird Families of the World series, the Birds of Paradise is written by authors who have dedicated much oftheir professional lives to researching the birds and observing them at first hand. It includes previously unpublished material and provides a synthesis of the huge literature that has been published over the last few years. As such it will be the most comprehensive review ever to be published onthe birds of paradise, the most ornate and interesting group of birds on earth. Nothing comparable exists in print.

Author Notes

Clifford B. Frith is at Queensland Museum, Brisbane. Bruce M. Beehler is at Smithsonian Institute, Washington.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Frith and Beehler have written an excellent, comprehensive, and readable book on one of the most fascinating avian families--the birds of paradise. The book is organized into two major parts. Part 1 reviews what is known about the birds in chapters on their discovery, evolution, ecology, reproductive behavior, nesting biology, conservation, and place in human tradition and culture. Part 2 presents detailed species accounts, each including description of adults and immatures, geographic distributions, systematics, nomenclature, subspecies, weights, measurements, habitats, diets, vocalizations, mating systems, courtship and breeding behaviors, annual cycles, and current status. Beautiful color plates portray all 42 birds of paradise species and some hybrids. Several appendixes detail descriptions of hybrids, a chronology of the exploration of Australasia and the study of birds of paradise, molt patterns, plant species eaten by the birds, and a gazetteer of important locations mentioned within the text. The book is exhaustively researched, thoroughly cited, and will likely be the most authoritative work on this avian family for years. Highly recommended for bird enthusiasts. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. E. H. Rave; Bemidji State University

Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgement
List of colour plates
List of abbreviations
Plan of the book
Diagrams of bird topography
Diagrams of bird of paradise structural morphology
Map showing some more important locations mentioned in the text
Boundaries of the regional maps used in the species accounts of Chapter 9
Part I
1 The incredible birds of paradise - an introduction
2 Discovery of the birds of paradise and history of their study
3 Evolution and biogeography of the birds of paradise
4 Ecology of the birds of paradise
5 Reproductive behaviour
6 Nesting biology and parental behaviour
7 Birds of paradise in human tradition and culture
8 ConservationPart II
Family, subfamily, genus and species accounts