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New Guinea

Crowned-Pigeons: Big, Beautiful, Threatened

Imagine a pigeon the size of a Turkey Vulture or a Canada Goose! Meet the crowned-pigeon. Four species inhabit the large, equatorial island of New Guinea and a few smaller islands. Crowned-pigeons are forest birds and fruit-eaters, with iridescent purple chests and spectacular, tall, lacy crests... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  evolution

Left Foot or Right? Handedness in Birds

A parrot’s eyes are located on the sides of its head. So, if it wants to look at something — say, a delicious piece of fruit — it has to cock its head one way or the other do it. And if it looks with its left eye, then uses its left foot. Scientists call this handedness. That’s when one hand — or... read more »

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Eclectic Plumages of Eclectus Parrots

Eclectus Parrots are big, loud, colorful parrots native to the lowland rainforests of New Guinea and northern Australia. The female (seen right) and the male are so different, they were once thought to be two separate species. Such a dramatic sexual contrast in plumage is rare in parrots. It... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Birds of Paradise

It's morning on the island of New Guinea, and the lowland forests erupt with the crowing calls of Birds of Paradise. Male Raggiana Birds of Paradise perform elaborate displays to attract females, sometimes even hanging upside-down with their wings pointing upward. Forty-three species of Birds of... read more »

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Laughing Kookaburra

The voice of the Laughing Kookaburra is so distinctive, it's one of the best known sounds in nature. Its exotic call has been a Hollywood standard for decades, that unseen creature in the depths of the jungle, with heroes ranging from Tarzan to Indiana Jones. Kookaburras are hefty members of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

Encounter with a Cassowary

In a tropical woodland in eastern Australia, you glimpse a Southern Cassowary, a huge flightless bird that must rate as the most prehistoric looking of all birds. Cassowaries are capable of making remarkable sounds, including the lowest known bird call in the world, barely audible to the human... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization
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