travelled in the Levant between 1546 and 1549, mentions (Observations
de plusieurs singularitez [etc]. livre iii. chapter 25), among the
feathery adornments of the Janissaries, plumes which could hardly be other
than those of these birds, and expressly states that they were obtained
from Arabs (He said that they belonged to birds called Rhintaces, which
some modern writers identified with the Apus of classical authors,
though he himself thought they were the feathers of the Phoenix. A
plausible case might indeed be made out for connecting the legend of the
Phoenix with that of the gods and of paradise). His statement was
first published in 1553, and in the same year appeared the work of Cardanus,
wherein (lib. x,) the Manucodiata, as the
Bird-of-Paradise now began to be called, is made to support the author's
argument (the adoption of its Malay name showing that knowledge of it was
derived from Spanish or Portuguese navigators).
In 1555 it was again treated of by Belon, as well
as by Gesner, who figured what seems to have been a specimen of
Bird of Paradise, Paradisea minor, both of them expressing doubt
as to the truth of the stories which were already rife on the subject.
Some of these were touched upon in 1557 by J. C. Scaliger in his reply
(Exotericarum exercitationum Liber XV. ccxxviii. 2) to Cardanus,
while in 1599 Aldrovandus (Ornithol.
lib. xii.), rejoicing in these
fables, severely took to task some of those who doubted them - among them
Pigafetta himself, who is rated for declaring that Birds-of-Paradise had
legs, for it was clear from the authorities cited that they had, or ought
to have, none. Aldrovandus professedly figured five species, but only three
of them can be referred with any certainty to the genus Paradisea.