Searching for birds-of-paradise in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

When I enter the rainforest of Indonesia’s Waigeo Island, the first thing I notice is the equatorial air. It’s so thick, I feel as if I’m walking through a cloud. The next thing that hits me is the deafening hum of cicadas. They drown out the noise of my feet crunching leaves as I step ever closer to my destination: a tiny thatched-roof hut in a muddy riverside clearing. It’s hard to imagine spending a single night here, much less two months, but that’s exactly what British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace did in 1860 while studying birds-of-paradise, an aptly named group of about 40 species whose lavish plumage and elaborate courtship dances helped inform early research on evolution… (continue reading at The Chicago Tribune)

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