[Tim] We went to the Aru Island in Indonesia to photograph the greater bird-of-paradise. It did take several hours by boat up a channel and then hiking in through the forest to get to the location. And then of course, the whole time I was thinking what is this location going to be like, is it going to be possible to get a good picture, are we going to have a good view? Many birds-of-paradise display on the ground or near the ground in the lower part of the forest, and those of course are a little easier to photograph and film. The greater bird-of-paradise displays up in the treetops, and when we got the site it was immediately apparent that I was not going to have a good enough view from the ground, to shoot from the ground. And I knew I was going to have to climb up in the tree, make some sort of platform and a blind up in a tree in order to be able to photograph the birds. All right, here it goes. All right, we got the rope over. — [Ed] For Tim, having the ability to be an expert tree climber and taking his 6’7″ frame up into a tree and sitting in a cramped blind and then waiting for seven or eight hours for a bird to show up and get the images – there are very few people on the planet who can probably do that. A good example of that is the work that we did on greater bird-of-paradise. [BLIND HEIGHT 100 FEET] — [Tim] All right. Here’s the lek right here. See these branches right here. This is the main display perch, and the secondary perch there. And there’s my blind over there, where I’ve been shooting from. And right here is my leaf camera. — [Ed] And now we had two ropes up two different trees and the first thing Tim had to do was climb the tree in the dark, get the camera set up, climb back down, go over to the other tree, climb that tree, get in, set up his big camera, set up the laptop, plug everything in and basically pray it was all going to work because there wasn’t any more opportunity to climb back down and fix it if it didn’t work because the sun was coming up and the birds were coming. — [Tim] Ever since the beginning of the birds-of-paradise project I’ve been sort of dreaming of a shot where I could see a bird in the foreground and be looking out over the rain forest in the background. And I saw the shot download to my laptop and I said that’s it, and I knew I had it. That was a real exciting moment where I had sensed that sense of success after all these years of sort of dreaming about a shot like that. [Explore more at birdsofparadiseproject.org, youtube.com/LabofOrnithology]

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Doing research means doing things no one else has done before, so a big part of being a scientist is solving problems. On top of hard work and training, scientists need ingenuity. Tim Laman had to get creative to film Greater Birds-of-Paradise displaying high in the forest canopy. Watch his process as he hatches an idea, goes the distance to install it, and eventually succeeds. Filmed and photographed by Tim Laman. Explore more at www.birdsofparadiseproject.org