“Mysterious Bird of Paradise: Lost and Found”

excerpts from article
written by Jennifer Shatwell,
Conservation International
Staff Writer

bowerbird_5f200px.jpg

With an international team of 11 scientists, the majority from the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI), Beehler conducted the first thorough survey of biological diversity in the Foja Mountains – the largest nearly pristine tropical forest in Asia. There they uncovered a trove of new and “missing” species, among them the mysterious and legendary Berlepsch’s Six-wired Bird of Paradise (Parotia berlepschi). On their second day in the forest, the team became the first outside scientists to observe a male bird of paradise, finally putting to rest the mystery of the origin of this species.

The Berlepsch’s Six-wired Bird of Paradise was first describedbirdofparadise_5f200px.jpg in 1897 by the German ornithologist Otto Kleinschmidt from wildlife skins in the private museum of Hans von Berlepsch. The striking black bird with metallic plumage along its throat and white flank plumes was named for the curious wires that extend from its head in place of a crest. It appeared to originate in northern New Guinea, but a precise location of the bird’s habitat was unknown. In this respect, it was similar to the Golden-fronted Bowerbird (Amblyornis flavifrons) – also described in the 1890s from an unknown location in New Guinea.

At least a dozen attempts were made to find the two mysterious birds over the next 80 years…

Then in the late 1970s, scientists turned their attention to the Foja Mountains.

“The Fojas were a promised land to biologists in search of the unknown, …It was a wild land given over to wildlife.”

“Yet we’ve just scratched the surface,” says Beehler, who is already planning a follow-up trip to the range in late 2006.

Note: This is a heavily cut version of an excellent article at the Conservation International website. There was quite a bit of interesting information which I edited out simply to keep it short. I strongly recommend reading the original.
There are also previous entries about new species from the Foja Mountains in this blog.

One Response to “Mysterious Bird of Paradise: Lost and Found”

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