Birds-of-paradise are some of most stunning examples of evolution in the animal kingdom: They have stunning plumage and incredible intricate songs and dances, which all evolved to win mates. Now, thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Geographic, all 39 species of bird-of-paradise in New Guinea’s mountainous rainforests have been captured on film in all of their glory.
I’ve discussed before how birds-of-paradise (and juggalos) are shaped by the incredibly complex evolutionary process. Their remarkable specificity–a neon green feather here, a long, complicated warble there–is a miracle, shaped over millennia as various sexual preferences were randomly exploited and propagated in isolation on the small Pacific islands the birds call home.
Chris Maynard is obsessed with feathers. The artist, based in Olympia, Washington, thinks feathers show “life’s perfection,” in the way that they overlap and countour to a bird’s body. “Their complexity as a covering beats any clothing we make,” he writes on his Web site.
Going back a few years, Maynard started by photographing feathers. Then, he arranged them in shadow boxes. But, in his experiments in showcasing feathers, Maynard eventually came up with his own unique art form. The artist creates fascinating, feather-light sculptures, by cutting the silhouettes of various types of birds from actual plumage. - Continue reading atSmithsonian.com.
Sometimes you just want a skeleton. Especially if you’re a museum. So how do you get the meat off the bones of an animal? Well, if you’re the Natural History Museum in London, beetles, apparently. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.
The birds gather around their fallen friend and sing to such a degree that the din gathers more birds, who then sing and in turn gather more. After the funeral ceremony the birds avoid foraging in the area around the deceased bird for at least 24 hours.
Annually, 100 million to 1 billion birds meet their maker thanks to an encounter with glass. And while there are plenty of window decals out there meant to alert birds to the imminent danger, most of them aren’t exactly attractive. But now a group of art students are working on beautiful bird-themed window art as a solution to this unseen deathtrap. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.
Photo: Jill Schlegel and Temple University
Ed note: It’s rough being a bird. You have to look out for glass and planes.