(The). An old name for a bird of paradise. It is a corruption of the Malay manute-dewata, the bird of the gods.
Less pure the footless fowl of heaven, that never Rests upon earth, but on the wing for ever, Hovering o'er flowers, their fragrant food inhale. Drink the descending dew upon the way: And sleep aloft while floating on the gale.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894