Imagine a bird with the most fantastical plumage you can come up with!

Chances are, you may have envisioned something that looks like one of the 39 species the birds-of-paradise. These remarkable creatures are found only in the deep rainforests on the island of Papua New Guinea, and their beauty and variation is arguably unparalleled.

This Saturday Around the World, we take you deep into those forests with the Birds-of-Paradise Project to catch a glimpse of one of the greatest Bird-of-Paradise research expeditions ever undertaken!

We start our adventure with an introduction to these magnificent birds and the land they call home!

This is just the introduction to a fantastic collection of videos created by the Birds-of-Paradise Project about this incredible expedition and its birds.

While the Birds-of-Paradise Project has a seemingly endless number of videos and resources, I thought I would bring together a few of them to give you a better understanding of the massive undertaking of this project and some of the incredible footage, images, and data collected over the course of 8 years.

Perhaps the most remarkable feat of this project was their success in capturing all 39 species on film. To see the entire collection of birds together at once is an incredible testament to the wonders of evolution. Here they all are in all of their splendor.

As anybody who has ever tried to take a good family picture with more than two people knows, photographing moving targets who make only fleeting appearances is incredibly difficult. For anybody who has tried to lug around and travel with a camera any larger than your phone, you will also know the difficulty of collecting batteries, chargers, lenses, cases, camera cards, and various other accouterments.

So, now imagine a photography expedition with well over five, maybe ten, times the gear, making 200 flights, 58 boat rides, and countless treks deep into the rainforest, all in pursuit of some of the most elusive birds in the world. Looking at this expedition by the numbers makes the incredible work of the Birds-of-Paradise Project even more unbelievable.

When we see an image, we hardly ever think of the numbers that go into it. For that one perfect shot, a photographer can wait hours, even days. And great images are often the ones that make you forget a photographer was even there. Here is the story behind one such shot, and how photographer Tim Laman captured the incredible Greater Birds-of-Paradise display high in the canopy of the forest.

If you found yourself awestruck by any of these videos go jump over to the Birds-of-Paradise Project website, where you can find endless interactives, videos, and stories about the project, its birds, and the people who made this all possible! It really is an incredible resource for any budding ornithologist or nature lover! Also, if you want to see some of the incredible images that came out of this expedition head over to Tim Laman’s website where you can see his stunning photographs.

If you know of any creatures or project you would like to see us write about on EWC please let us know!

-Liesl,“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”-Victor Borge

Liesl can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV

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Notes:

  1. Birds-of-Paradise Project. “Birds-of-Paradise Project Introduction.”YouTube. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 11 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTR21os8gTA>.
  2. Birds-of-Paradise Project. “The 39 Species.” YouTube. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 8 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkMwZgtHVnI>.
  3. Birds-of-Paradise Project. “Birds-of-Paradise Project: By the Numbers.”YouTube. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 8 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byshbTg-7Ks>.
  4. Birds-of-Paradise Project. “Ingenuity: Capturing the Ideal Shot.” YouTube. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw2ObrQg59A>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV