The Dancer

Ever since I began my trip to Papua, Indonesia in mid-November, I began to have regrets for not taking Mr. Aaronian’s ornithology class back at boarding school. Sure, I was a bit lazy: I didn’t want to wake up for his 5am weekly field trips and I just didn’t think he like me a lot when I took his intro to bio class because he pulled me out after class saying how he noticed me falling asleep on him a few times…Fast forward a couple years and I’m in the Arfak Mountains waking up at 4 am everyday for two weeks, trekking through the jungle in pursuit of perhaps the world’s most beautiful and intriguing family of birds–the Birds of Paradise. Found on the island of New Guinea and Northern Australia, the Birds of Paradise sport some of the most magnificent plumage and dance moves imaginable, a result of millions of years of sexual selection.

Boring stuff aside, I managed to track down the Western Parotia (a bird of paradise) adult and juvenile male.

November 12, 2012—Arfak Mts.—73Above, the juvenile W. Parotia practices his dance moves on a rival male’s dance court (below), an flat area with all distracting leaves and twigs plucked away to form a stage for his courtship dance.

November 11, 2012—Arfak Mts.—33(Below) the adult male Western Parotia, with its stunning iridescent chest and head plumage.

November 12, 2012—Arfak Mts.—65

PLEASE watch the dance of this bird. It’s pretty amazing what this bird does:

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