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(birds of paradise), a family of birds of the order Passeriformes. The bill is strong and sometimes long; the tail is short and straight or long and graduated. The plumage is dark, with a metallic sheen; some species are brightly colored, with a predominance of red, yellow, or dark blue. The males usually have brighter coloration than the females, and many have ornamental feathers on the head, sides, and tail that are used during elaborate courting display.
There are 40 species of birds of paradise, distributed in forests on the Moluccas and New Guinea and on neighboring islands, as well as in forests in northern and eastern Australia. They are sedentary birds. Their nests, which are open, are constructed in trees. A clutch contains two eggs, which are incubated by the female. Birds of paradise feed on seeds, berries and other small fruits, insects, frogs, and lizards. They were formerly widely hunted for their feathers, which were used for decorative purposes.