ITHACA, N.Y. (Sept. 28, 2012)—National Geographic and Cornell University will present a free public presentation about New Guinea’s spectacular birds-of-paradise as well as National Geographic field research and exploration. It will feature National Geographic Vice President of Research, Conservation and Exploration John Francis; National Geographic photographer Tim Laman; and Cornell ornithologist Edwin Scholes. The event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. in the Statler Hall Auditorium on the Cornell University campus.
Francis will discuss his role at National Geographic and the organization’s support of exploration around the globe. Laman and Scholes will share extraordinary imagery, sounds and stories from their eight-year quest to document all 39 species of birds-of-paradise in New Guinea for the first time.
Laman (http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photographers/photographer-tim-laman/?source=A-to-Z) is a wildlife photographer, field biologist and noted conservationist whose photos were first published in National Geographic magazine more than 15 years ago. Scholes, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s biodiversity video curator, is a leading authority on the behavior and evolution of the birds-of-paradise in New Guinea, having studied them for more than a decade.
The two partnered in 2003, and by 2006 they had captured on film 22 species of these elusive birds. Laman and Scholes received funding from the National Geographic Expeditions Council and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to finish what they had started — creating a “family portrait” of all 39 species. In 2011, after 18 expeditions, the two succeeded, capturing both still images and video footage of all 39 birds-of-paradise.
Birds-of-paradise have captivated scientists and photographers alike for decades, mainly because of their colorful feathers, extravagant ornamentation and bizarre courtship behaviors. Laman and Scholes also studied the birds’ mating rituals and dances and how the process of sexual selection has shaped their evolution.
Laman and Scholes authored “Birds of Paradise: Revealing the World’s Most Extraordinary Birds,” to be released by National Geographic Books on Oct. 23. The book is part of a National Geographic Society-wide effort and a collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which includes an exhibition at the National Geographic Museum opening Thursday, Nov. 1; a documentary on the National Geographic Channel, “Winged Seduction: Birds of Paradise” airing on Nov. 22 and releasing later on DVD; National Geographic Live lectures across the country; and an article in the December issue of National Geographic magazine, which includes bonus materials in the iPad edition.
The public presentation will follow a daylong workshop on National Geographic’s Young Explorers Grants program for aspiring scientists between the ages of 18 and 25 wishing to pursue research-, exploration- and conservation-based field projects.
The Oct. 13 workshop is hosted at Cornell University with support from the National Geographic Society, Lucy and Henry Billingsley, Panasonic, the Brinson Foundation, The North Face and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
CONTACT: Kelsey Flora, National Geographic, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 828-8023
Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, email@example.com, (607) 254-2137
Information on National Geographic’s Young Explorers Grants program: