The art of birdwatching is one prized by many millions across the globe.
However, in order to see the most spectacular species of exotic birds, you will have to do a lot of traveling!
The Mandarin Duck ranks as an extraordinarily beautiful, not to mention colorful, variety of duck. It also bears a close relationship to the wood duck of North America.
This unique animal now lists Threatened with the IUCN in its endemic range.
The primary reason for this remains habitat loss, due to the destruction of native forests.
However, and in this instance, for once, thankfully, mankind introduced it to many other portions of the world.
The Mandarin Duck also constitutes a species of perching duck.
Individuals spend most of their time during the day perching in trees or on the ground.
Though not hunted for food, its beauty, however, nevertheless serves as a curse since collectors often hunt the magnificent avian.
GREATER BIRD OF PARADISE
High above the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, male red birds-of-paradise gather to display.
They look glorious in the morning sun: primary-colored and sleek, with fine black tail feathers that coil behind them in ribbons.
It’s easy to see why early explorers mistook these birds for mythical creatures.
They let out a repetitive, piercing screech to advertise their presence.
A cacophony of disorganized sound erupts from the treetops as each bird’s call competes with the next.
When a female finally appears, the males begin bobbing and strutting and fanning their delicate wing feathers, each trying to secure the female’s attention for himself.
With their dramatic appearance and unusual courtship behavior, it’s no wonder birds-of-paradise have captured people’s curiosity for so long.
Impressive as it is, the male’s beauty is impractical. For example, take the ribbon-tailed Astrapia, which boasts bright white tail feathers that stretch one meter long.
Excessively long tail feathers might help this bird-of-paradise attract mates, they aren’t exactly useful for survival.
The male birds-of-paradise is certainly a sight to behold.
Still, there is more to their performance than first meets the eye. When you look at a bird-of-paradise, you are witnessing an evolution in action.
And, while the male grabs our attention, strutting and preening center stage, it was generations of discerning females that shaped their incredible appearance and outlandish courtship behavior that gave birds-of-paradise their name.