Comfortable in the trees, birds of paradise generally stay in the upper ranges of the forest canopy. Some species do go a bit lower and may occasionally forage on the forest floor. The birds do like to bathe, using shallow forest ponds or even bird baths in yards! Most female bird of paradise species build a cup nest of vines, twigs, leaves, and moss. The small king bird of paradise is unusual in that it nests in a tree cavity.

The feeding habits of birds of paradise are not well known, but it is believed that most species are fruit eaters. Most of these birds eat insects; they have been observed tearing apart dead wood to get to insects. Some species have been seen eating seeds, frogs, reptiles, and nestling birds.

At the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the birds of paradise are given low-iron pellets made for soft-billed birds, as well as apples, papayas, and cantaloupe. During breeding season, mealworms and crickets are added.

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