Our Beautiful World

Birds of Paradise, Paradisaeidae

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Astrapia mayeri
Brown Sickbill, Epimachus meyeri
Wilson's Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus respublica
King Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus regius

Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Seleucidis melanoleuca
Lesser Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea minor

Greater Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea apoda. Male bird of paradise at Bali Bird Park.
Photo: Lawardi

Family: Paradisaeidae

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Astrapia mayeri

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Astrapia mayeri

Right: Juvenile male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Astrapia mayeri,
yet to develop his white tail plumage


The Ribbon-tailed Astrapia also known as Shaw Mayer's Astrapia, Astrapia mayeri, is a medium-sized, up to 32 cm
long (without including the tail of the male, which can be over 1 meter), velvet black bird of paradise. The male has an
iridescent olive green and bronze plumage, and is adorned with ornamental "ball" plume above its bill and two extremely
long, ribbon-like white tail feathers. The female is a brown bird with an iridescent head. Hybrids between this species
and the Stephanie's Astrapia, in the small area where their ranges overlap, have been named Barnes' Astrapia.

One of the most spectacular birds of paradise, the male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia has the longest tail feathers in relation
to body size of any bird, over three times the length of its body.

The Ribbon-tailed Astrapia is distributed and endemic to subalpine forests in western part of the central highlands of
Papua New Guinea. Like many other ornamental birds of paradise, the male is polygamous. The Ribbon-tailed Astrapia
is the latest bird of paradise to be discovered.

The scientific name commemorates the great naturalist and New Guinea explorer Fred Shaw Mayer, who was believed
to have discovered the bird in 1938. However, it is now believed that explorer Jack Hides discovered the bird, while
Mayer became interested in it later.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribbon-tailed_Astrapia

Wilson's Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus respublica

Wilson's Bird of Paradise
Photo: Serhanoksay

The Wilson's Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus respublica, is a small, up to 21 cm long, passerine bird of the Paradisaeidae
family. The male is a red and black bird-of-paradise with a yellow mantle on its neck, light green mouth, rich blue feet
and two curved violet tail feathers. The head is naked blue with black double cross pattern on it. The female is a brownish
bird with bare blue crown.

In the field the blue bare skin on the crown of the bird's head is so vivid that it is clearly visible by night, the deep scarlet
back and velvet green breast are lush, and the curlicue tail gleams bright silver.

An Indonesian endemic, the Wilson's Bird-of-paradise is distributed to the hill and lowland rainforests of Waigeo and
Batanta Islands off West Papua. The diet consists mainly of fruits and small insects.

ARKive video - Wilsonís bird-of-paradise - overview

Wilson’s bird-of-paradise - overview
BBC Natural History Unit

The controversial scientific name of this species was given by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon's nephew and a
republican idealist, who described the bird from a badly damaged trade specimen purchased by British ornithologist
Edward Wilson. In doing so, he beat John Cassin, who wanted to name the bird in honor of Wilson, by several months
. Thirteen years later, in 1863, the German zoologist Heinrich Agathon Bernstein discovered the home grounds of the
Wilson's Bird-of-paradise in Waigeo Island.

Due to ongoing habitat loss, limited range and exploitation, the Wilson's Bird-of-paradise is evaluated as Near
Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

The first footage of the Wilson's Bird-of-paradise ever to be filmed was recorded in 1996 by David Attenborough for
the BBC documentary Attenborough in Paradise. He did so by dropping leaves on the forest floor, which irrated the
bird into clearing them away.

King Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus regius

King Bird of paradise - male
Photo: Doug Janson

The King Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus regius, is a small, approximately 16 cm long, passerine bird of the Paradisaeidae (Bird-of-paradise) family. The male is a crimson and white with bright blue feet and green-tipped fan-like plumes on its
shoulder. The two elongated tail wires are decorated with emerald green disk feathers on its tip. The unadorned female
is a brown bird with barring below.

The King Bird-of-paradise is distributed throughout lowland forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. This so-called
"living gem" is the smallest and most vividly colored among birds of paradise. The diet consists mainly of fruits and

An extraordinary display is performed by the male with a series of tail swinging, fluffing of its abdomen white feathers
that makes the bird look like a cottonball, and acrobatic pendulum displays.

Brown Sickbill, Epimachus meyeri

A male Brown Sicklebill in Papua New Guinea

The Brown Sickbill, Epimachus meyeri, is a large, up to 96 cm long, dark blue and green bird-of-paradise with highly
iridescent plumages, a sickle-shaped bill, pale blue iris and brown underparts. The male is adorned with ornamental plumes
on the sides of its rear and a huge sabre-shaped central tail feathers that are highly prized by natives. The female is a
reddish brown bird with buff barred black below.

The Brown Sicklebill is distributed to mountain forests of New Guinea, Its appearance resembles the closely related and
larger Black Sicklebill. In areas where these two large sicklebills met, the Brown Sicklebill replaced the latter species in
higher altitudes. Its diet consists mainly of fruits, arthropods and small animals.

This bird was discovered by Carl Hunstein in 1884 and named after Adolf Bernard Meyer of Dresden Museum, Germany.

Brown Sicklebill, female, in Papua New Guinea.

Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Seleucidis melanoleuca

Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Seleucidis melanoleuca
Left: Photo: Stavenn , Bronx Zoo, New York
Right; Female, Photo: Doug Janson

The Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise, Seleucidis melanoleucus or Seleucidis melanoleuca, is a medium-sized,
approximately 33 cm long, velvet black and yellow bird-of-paradise. The male has a red iris, long black bill and rich
yellow plumes along its flanks. From the rear of these plumes emerge twelve blackish, wire-like filaments, which bend
back near their bases to sweep forward over the birds hindquarters. The female is a brown bird with black-barred
buffy underparts. Its feet are strong, large-clawed and pink in color.

The sole representative of the monotypic genus Seleucidis, the Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise is a bird of lowland forests.
The male displays on an exposed vertical perch with its breast-shield flared. Its diet consists mainly of fruits and arthropods.

Widely distributed throughout New Guinea and Salawati Island of Irian Jaya, the Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise has not been easy to breed in captivity. It has only been successfully bred in Singapore's Jurong Bird Park.

Lesser Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea minor

Lesser Bird of Paradise, Paradisaea minor
Photo: Roderick Eime

The Lesser Bird-of-paradise is medium-sized, up to 32 cm-long, maroon-brown with a yellow crown and brownish-yellow
upper back. The male has a dark emerald-green throat, a pair of long tail-wires and is adorned with ornamental flank
plumes which are deep yellow at their base and fade outwards into white. The female is a maroon bird with a dark-brown
head and whitish underparts. Further study is required, but it seems likely that birds of paradise also possess toxins in their
skins, derived from their insect prey.

It resembles the larger Greater Bird-of-paradise, but the male of that species has a dark chest, whereas the female is
entirely brown (no whitish underparts).

The males are polygamous, and perform courtship displays in leks. The female usually lays two pinkish eggs with dark
markings in a nest in a tree high above ground. Its diet consists mainly of fruits and insects.

The Lesser Bird-of-paradise is distributed throughout forests of northern New Guinea, and the nearby islands
of Misool and Yapen.

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