Bird-of-paradise display feathers are highly evolved versions of a basic feather. They no longer have the standard structure of a central quill and a vane made of tiny interlocking barbs. They’ve evolved into fluffy plumes or stiff wires, some with hard ornaments or tabs. These radical changes, and the muscles that let the bird move them, serve no purpose other than to improve the male’s chances during courtship. Filmed and photographed by Tim Laman. Explore more at

Ready to dive deeper into Ornithology and receive an official Certificate of Completion as well as Continuing Education Credits? Learn how in our online course—Ornithology: Comprehensive Bird Biology