One of the most fabulous bird species in the world is the largest of its kind in its particular family.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the blue bird-of-paradise, a bird that is only found on one particular island in the world.
1. It’s the only bird in its particular genus
The blue bird-of-paradise is a member of the bird-of-paradise family known as the “Paradisaeidae,” which is part of the order Passeriformes.
As you surely guessed, these (male) birds have a wonderful glossy black color in combination with shiny blue wings, a feature in both sexes.
It’s also the only bird in the genus “Paradisornis,” a name that simply translates to “paradise bird.”
2. These birds live on an island just north of mainland Australia
The main reason why they are referred to as “paradise birds” is because of the location they live. Their native habitat is the island of Papua New Guinea, which is situated north of mainland Australia.
They prefer forested areas but seem to have adapted well to degraded forests as well. They live at relatively high altitudes ranging between 1,400 and 1,800 meters (4,593 to 5,905 feet).
The geographic range of these birds is the eastern Central Ranges of Papua New Guinea. They can be found from Mount Sisa, a stratovolcano in Hela, to the Owen Stanley Range, a mountain range part of the highlands of the island of New Guinea.
3. The male birds have two distinctive features
Apart from being glossy black in color, these birds’ other distinctive feature is silver-colored and crescent-shaped patches around their eyes.
Even though both sexes have shiny blue wings, The male birds have distinctive colorful flank plumes, mainly to be used during courtship rituals.
These elongated plumes have a silky texture a magnificent light to aqua blue color. Apart from lacking these magnificent flank plumes, the female bird has a chestnut-brown underside.
Another special feature only present in males are 2 long wires that have a length of up to 63.5 centimeters (25 inches).
This is another feature used during the special courtship ritual as these wires form arches as the bird hangs upside down. They go a long way to woo the ladies, that’s for sure.
4. What do blue birds-of-paradise eat?
The blue bird-of-paradise is a frugivorous animal. This means that their diet mainly consists of fruits such as figs, drupes, and berries, collected at the top of trees.
Occasionally, these birds can also hunt for small insects and even vertebrates such as lizards.
They consume their prey in the top of trees, usually alone, even though female birds can sometimes be spotted eating with younger birds as well.
5. This bird species is considered to be vulnerable due to habitat loss
Even though the population of these birds is scattered all across the mountainous areas of Papua New Guinea, there aren’t any densely populated areas.
Even though habitat loss is considered to be the biggest threat to this bird species’ existence, these birds are also hunted for their magnificent plumage.
This has led to the assessment that these birds are considered “vulnerable” according to the IUCN Red List.
The total population of these birds is anywhere between 2,500 and 10,000 individuals, and unfortunately, the trend is decreasing.
More interesting facts about the blue bird-of-paradise
6. The scientific name of this bird species is “Paradisornis rudolphi.” This is a reference to Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria (1858-1889).
7. There are two officially recognized subspecies of these birds as well, the “Paradisornis rudolphi rudoolphi” and the “Paradisornis rudolphi margaritae.” The first can be found in the southeastern part of Papua New Guinea while the latter lives in the eastern-central mountains of the island.
The “margaritae” subspecies was named after “Margaret Fitzell Gilliard,” the wife of a famous American ornithologist named Ernest Thomas Gilliard (1912-1965) who participated in several expeditions in South America and Papua New Guinea.
8. Even though the blue bird-of-paradise is now placed within its own genus, it was originally placed in the genus Paradisaea. This genus consists of 7 different species of birds of paradise.
Today, the blue version of these birds is considered to be a subgenus of the Padaisaea, mainly because of its close relationship to the 3 birds in the genus “Cicinnurus.” These are so-called “sickle tail birds-of-paradise.”
9. The blue bird-of-paradise is the largest bird species of the entire family. These medium-sized birds can have a length of up to 30 centimeters (11.81 inches).
10. The male birds are polygamous and have a very particular method to impress the females. During their courtship ritual, it hangs upside down from a branch and spreads its plumes wide open.
While doing this, the spires form an arch and the male bird sways its body back and forth while making some sort of buzzing noise. In the case of the female backing off, the male turns up the volume a bit to lure her back in.
Even though they have perfected their technique to lure the females, the males are unfamiliar with parental duties. They’re polygamous and leave all of the work to the females, including building the nest and raising the chicks.