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Paradise of Birds

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The Paradise of Birds is an avian fairyland occupied by fairy Birds of Paradise. The location and the metaphysical structure of this fairyland are uncertain; but the Paradise of Birds can be reached from at least one point in the woodlands of North America.

Description

The borders of the Paradise of Birds are protected by strong contrary winds, that tend to defeat and repel any birds who try to fly there. Creeping along the ground is the one way to counter this effect. The border of the Paradise is patrolled by the Guardian of the Entrance, who can allow entry to rare visitors.

The trees and bushes of the Paradise are of gold and silver, with delicate metallic leaves and jeweled blooms that glow in the dominant rose-tinted light. Exotic flowers occur in abundance: bell-like blossoms that ring like bells, "fountain lilies" that emit sprays of water, plants with broad leaves that constantly change color — some with umbrella-sized leaves that are as colorful as painters' palettes. Some trees have blue bark, yellow leaves, and pink flowers; there are nectar trees and flowers with human faces. Sweet smells and sounds fill the air.

The great central arbor is filled with bright white flowers — double roses and chrysanthemums and lilies-of-the-valley. There, the King Bird of Paradise can be found with his court and courtiers, including the Royal Messenger, the Royal Necromancer, and ladies in waiting. Beyond the central arbor lie other exotic locales — the Lustrous Lake with its singing fish, the curious Lake of Dry Water, and the Gleaming Glade where the birds perform their Beauty Dance.

The suburbs of the Paradise of Birds are populated by other flying creatures, including bees and butterflies. (Policeman Bluejay)

Background

Animal fairies of the type portrayed in Policeman Bluejay recur in Baum's books, most notably in the Animal Fairy Tales.

The Paradise of Birds is in fact Eden: "There is a legend that man once lived there, but for some unknown crime was driven away. But the birds have always been allowed to inhabit the place because they did no harm." (Baum's combination of Eden with fairyland raises interesting complexities.)

Birds of Paradise

The real Birds of Paradise from New Guinea were a topical subject in Baum's day. The German Empire had colonized the northeastern quadrant of the island of New Guinea in 1884; its explorers and naturalists discovered many new varieties of the birds, and named some of them after German aristocracy — like the Emperor of Germany Bird of Paradise, the King of Saxony Bird of Paradise, and Queen Carola's Six-Wired Bird of Paradise. The birds were also hunted for their magnificent tail feathers, which were in fashion for women's hats. Baum did not comment specifically on this, though judging from his short story "The Enchanted Types" he would not have approved.

Baum is accurate in depicting the male birds as colorful and flamboyant, while the smaller brownish females are much more modest in appearance. He also has the male birds dance and the females not, which is generally accurate; the males are famous for their courting displays. Baum departs from nature in making his Birds of Paradise silent — though they are silent because the Paradise they inhabit is so full of sound.

(At Ozcot, his home in Hollywood, California, Baum kept an aviary with 40 different types of birds, selected for their songs and their bright plumage.)

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