Danc­ing feath­ers

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Birds Of Paradise -

For cen­turies, the tribes­men of Pa­pua New Guinea have used bird of par­adise feath­ers to make elab­o­rate cos­tumes for their sing-sings ( left). These lo­cal fes­ti­vals are gath­er­ings of a few tribes or vil­lages to show­case their dis­tinc­tive cul­tures and keep tra­di­tions alive. The two big­gest are the Goroka and Mount Ha­gen shows that draw crowds from all over the world. They are a riot of colour, with each tribe pre­sent­ing its par­tic­u­lar body paint­ing, songs, dances and dis­plays of feath­ered head­dresses and neck adorn­ments. Dancers mimic the courtship dis­plays of the birds – mak­ing the feath­ers shake and bounce.

When David At­ten­bor­ough first saw a sing-sing he ex­claimed on how many birds must have been sac­ri­ficed to dec­o­rate the dancers. But, these days, many cos­tumes are pre­served and handed down from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. Some birds are still hunted but with hunters tak­ing older males and spar­ing the younger breed­ing-aged ones.

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