One of the most exciting things about what I do is having a chance to reveal aspects of animal behavior that haven’t been seen before. A couple years ago, my long time bird-of-paradise collaborator Ed Scholes of the Cornell Lab and I made another expedition to the Arfak Mountains in West Papua, with the aim of documenting the Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise display from the female perspective – in other words, from above looking down at the displaying male. We succeeded, and it’s been some time in coming out, but I’m thrilled to share that our footage now features in a brand new documentary on Netflix “LIFE IN COLOR with David Attenborough”. Please check it out. In the images and short video below, I share the “reveal” of what the female sees – a perspective that we think is a first for natural history filmmaking on this species.
When viewed from the side, like this shot I made from my blind nearby on the ground, you can see that the male’s breast shield just appears dark instead of bright green. The bright green color that the female sees from her position is created by the structure of the feathers, and is thus a directional signal the male can focus on her. As you can see here, the female really comes right in and gives the male a very careful looking over.
The male Magnificent BoP is a colorful bird even when not displaying, with bright yellow wings, maroon back feathers, and bright blue feet among others. His two central tail feathers are elongated and wire like, and iridescent blue on the top.
To learn how I shot the Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise, view my video on YouTube by clicking the picture above.
This is the poster for the new documentary, now out on Netflix. My BoP sequence is in Episode 1.
Thanks for tuning in to my adventures. Please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone who you think might enjoy it. Stay safe everyone, and be sure to get your dose of nature therapy (as well as that covid vaccine)!