May 7, 2013

The Birds of Paradise Project

Last night, after four days of plant society meetings and work at home, I treated Joe and myself to an amazing lecture and presentation in Watertown, MA, just outside of Boston,  The Birds-of-Paradise Project, a study which lasted 8 years and took 18 expeditions. It documents the journeys and studies of two men, Cornell Lab scientist Ed Scholes and National Geographic photojournalist Tim Laman who, after 8 years and 18 expeditions to New Guinea and Australia, captured the most incredible and moving images of all 39 species in the bird-of-paradise family for the first time ever.

You all know I am obsessed about plants, but my real love has always been birds. Yesterday, which happened to another spectacular May day with bright blue skies, and cool temperatures, could have been a very bird-enhanced day, as, I had wanted to get up early ( I took the day off to recoup from the weekend!), as I wanted to go for a pre-dawn hike in the mountains nearby, to simple listen to the morning chorus - as the peak warbler migration is nearing, and the forests here become alive at 4:30 am with vireos, redstarts, warbler species, robins, thrushes and most every migratory bird who arrived here over the past two weeks. But, instead, I laid in bed just thinking about getting up, but I could not drag myself out! I knew I would regret it, as these days are rare, and this weekend, it is supposed to rain. At least I had this lecture planned.

I know this is not plant related, but I think you all will enjoy this regardless - check out their introduction video below ( this is how they opened their presentation) and it is so well done - also be sure visit their well designed and content-rich website, as it has so many cool features, such as the ability to click on any of the species and see footage, or hear the song of each one, it's far better than any nature show ( no sharks, dramatic music or ....well, sharks).  In these videos you experience just the sounds of the forest ( Oh man, is it too late for me to become a wildlife photographer?). Be sure to check and see if these guys are coming to speak near you, as this was a monumental undertaking and the spectacular footage, as you will see, will leave you wanting more. This video below provides just a glimpse of their beauty, and the amazing photographic work presented in this study.

I too was very impressed with the quality of the entire presentation itself ( they used no Powerpoint or Keynote, but rather a new cloud based program called prezi, which by itself I found inspiring). In the end, I totally regretted not majoring in ornithology at Cornell, as was my life-long dream ( to become a wildlife artist), but at least, with modern tech, I can still participate in some small way. Enjoy this video, the footage is incredible. Oh, and be sure to order the book too! (BTW- no one paid me to post this, or even asked - it's just something I believe in, and I have a feeling you guys might enjoy it too!).

I did get some birding in this weekend, at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, a few Yellow Warblers in the forest behind the garden, my first of the year as they just arrived this week ( plus, a few Palm Warblers, Pine Warblers and a few mystery Warblers! I have so much more to learn! Warbler ID is HARD!


  1. What remarkable birds! Quite unlike anything we have here. Was it the same guys in the footage who gave the lecture?

  2. Yes, both men were there, that's what really made it so interesting, as they shared every detail (and we could ask questions).

  3. Wow!! What an positive experience for all parties involved.

    I'm sure the questions from the audience fueled their enthusiasm into a similar venture.

    If it had been me, I would have asked if they needed a roadie to help carry their gear ...lol!!


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