Birds of Paradise

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    IN the Bird House and the small Tropical House adjoining it, the Zoological Society of London now exhibits a dozen species of birds of paradise, several of them recent arrivals along with the rare Matschie's tree kangaroo (see NATUBE, Dec. 12, p. 996), also coming from the Rawlinson Mountains in north-east New Guinea. Most noteworthy is the Emperor of Germany's Bird of Paradise (Paradisea gulielmi), a species new to the collection; it bears a general resemblance to the well-known Lesser Emerald Bird of Paradise, but has the crown as well as the throat green, and the side-plumes shorter and of a different and less downy texture, more recalling the nuptial plumes of the egrets. Among those species that have been in the collection some time, special mention may be made of the Twelve-wired (Seleucides ignotus), because of the pecularity it exhibits of having the legs bare for some distance above the hock, as in a wading-bird. This peculiarity is shared by a very different bird from the same zoological region and also in the collection, the great black Palm-cockatoo (Microglossus aterrimus); this is noteworthy, for neither affinity nor habits can be invoked for the explanation of this nudity in these two species. A very humble bird by comparison, but also of much scientific interest, is a newly received specimen of the melanistic mutant of the blackcap: this variation, which is found in the Canaries and Azores, has been known for upwards of a century, and is called Heineken's Blackcap. The bird is on view in one of the small cages in the Bird House.

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    Birds of Paradise. Nature 129, 19 (1932) doi:10.1038/129019a0

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