ELLIOTT BIRDS OF PARADISE

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THE BIRDS OF PARADISE.

"As many of my journeys were made with the express object of obtaining specimens of the Birds of Paradise, and learning something of their habits and distribution; and being (as far as I am aware) the only Englishman who has seen these wonderful birds in their native forests, and obtained specimens of many of them, I propose to give here, in a connected form, the result of my observations and inquiries.

When the earliest European voyagers reached the Moluccas in search of cloves and nutmegs, which were then rare and precious spices, they were presented with the dried shins of birds so strange and beautiful as to excite the admiration even of those wealth-seeking rovers. The Malay traders gave them the name of “Manuk dewata,” or God’s birds; and the Portuguese, finding that they had no feet or wings, and not being able to learn anything authentic about then, called them “Passaros de Col,” or Birds of the Sun; while the learned Dutchmen, who wrote in Latin, called them “Avis paradiseus,” or Paradise Bird. John van Linschoten gives these names in 1598, and tells us that no one has seen these birds alive, for they live in the air, always turning towards the sun, and never lighting on the earth till they die; for they have neither feet nor wings, as, he adds, may be seen by the birds carried to India, and sometimes to Holland, but being very costly they were then rarely seen in Europe.

(Alfred Russell Wallace, The Malay Archipelago 1869).

Very rare spectacular series on the Birds of Paradise by the reknown ornithological artist Daniel Elliott only about 125 sets were issued.

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