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Alexa Freeman and the Birds of Papua New Guinea

A rainbow in your hand...

Tropical biologists Alexandra and Ben Freeman are in Papua New Guinea, documenting the effects of a warming climate on birds that live on the slopes of a remote mountain. Birds like this King of Saxony Bird of Paradise. Often, their research puts them in touch with unexpected beauty, especially when they’re removing birds from a mist-net. Alexandra explains: “Holding birds that are as colorful as any rainbow is pretty incredible! Some of the kingfishers are humungous and turn their head from side to side as you’re holding them in your hand. Some of the fruit doves are as if someone took all of the colors out of a watercolor paint container and put it on a bird. Just holding something like that is like you’re holding a jewel in your hand – it just feels precious!”

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Alexandra Freeman and the Birds of Papua New Guinea

Interview by Chris Peterson

    This is BirdNote!
    [Display song of a Raggiana Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea]
    Tropical biologists Alexandra and Ben Freeman are in Papua New Guinea, documenting the effects of a warming climate on birds that live on the slopes of a remote mountain. Birds like this King of Saxony Bird of Paradise…
[Display song of a King of Saxony Bird of Paradise]
Often, their science puts them in touch with unexpected beauty, especially when they’re removing birds from a mist net. Here’s Alexandra:  
“Holding birds that are as colorful as any rainbow is pretty incredible! And just to watch them move and look at you… You have birds that can open the gape of their mouth almost to the size of their head, because they’re catching nocturnal insects or bats even as they’re flying around at night. Some of the kingfishers there…are humungous and … just cerulean blue or brilliant scarlet red bills…and turn their head from side to side as you’re holding them in your hand. …Some of the fruit doves are just as if someone took all of the colors out of a watercolor paint container and put it on a bird. You know, fuchsia and green and spots of yellow with little black fringes, and just holding something like that is like you’re holding a jewel in your hand – it just feels precious!”

    It’s not hard to see why Alexandra feels the way she does about conservation:
“The conservation roots for me are really opening your eyes to something wild and respecting it for what it is, simply because it’s there.”   

[Display song of a King of Saxony Bird of Paradise]
    There’s more at birdnote.org.
###
Sounds of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Lekking sounds of Raggiana Birds of Paradise and calls of Ribbon-tailed Astrapia recorded by Eleanor Brown; song of King of Saxony Bird of Paradise recorded by Edwin Scholes III.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org   January 2013      Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#   freemanba-02-2013-01-24    freemanba-02        Interview recorded September 17, 2012

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