Superb Bird-of-Paradise

The Superb Bird-of-Paradise: An Eccentric Avian Dancer

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If you were to encounter a male Superb Bird-of-Paradise performing its mating display, you might not really understand what you are seeing!

Birds-of-Paradise are already fascinating birds, but add in the mating rituals of the Superb Bird-of-Paradise, and you are looking at something you have never seen before!

What Is a Bird-of-Paradise?

Superb Bird-of-Paradise
Image via YouTube

When you first search for “Bird-of-Paradise,” you’ll probably encounter more pictures of flowers than birds!

Birds-of-Paradise, however, is also the name of the family Paradisaeidae, which is a member of the Passeriformes order. They are predominantly found in Papua New Guinea, eastern Australia, and eastern Indonesia.

These magnificent birds are often vibrantly colored in blue, red, green, yellow, or black. They usually have a ruff of feathers around their necks, and their feathers are dramatic and beautiful.

There are two closely-related Superb Birds-of-Paradise: the Greater Superb Bird-of-Paradise and the newly identified Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise.

What Does a Superb Bird-of-Paradise Look Like?

The male Superb Bird-of-Paradise is black with a gorgeous, iridescent green crown and a blue-green breast cover. He also has a black feather cape down his back.

The female, on the other hand, is barred in brown and buff on her belly and chest. The rest of her is reddish-brown.

How Big Are Superb Birds-of-Paradise?

The Superb Bird-of-Paradise weighs about 3.7 oz and has a wingspan of up to 22 inches. It is just under 10.5 inches long.

The Unique Mating Dance of the Superb Bird-of-Paradise

Before the mating ritual begins, the male clears the ground of his performance area of any leaves and ground litter. Then, he makes a loud call that attracts females to the area. That’s when he begins his smooth dance moves!

When performing for a mate, males use their cape of feathers to create what looks like a big, blue smile on a dark black background. This is kind of hard to imagine, so be sure to check out the video to see this for yourself!

The bird hops up and down while fanning out his feathers to attract a female. The newly discovered Vogelkop variety slides side-to-side instead. Instead of an oval background, he fans his feathers into a crescent shape.

Males significantly outnumber females, so there is a lot of competition for a mate. The female may reject 15-20 potential mates before choosing one!

Nesting Habits:

Females build their nests on the tops of the trees out of leaves. They lay only 1-3 eggs, which hatch after a 16-22 incubation period. They remain in the nest between 16 and 30 days later.

Where Do Superb Birds-of-Paradise Live?

For the most part, these birds live in New Guinea. Sometimes, they have also been spotted in Indonesia.

They are rainforest-dwellers who can be found in mountain tree tops.

The Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise is found exclusively in the Bird’s Head Peninsula of Papua New Guinea.

If you want to see a Superb Bird-of-Paradise in the US, you can travel to the San Diego Zoo, where the first hatching in captivity occurred in 1968 between a pair of Lesser Superb Birds-of-Paradise.

Today, the Zoo’s Lost Forest aviary is home to a number of Birds-of-Paradise.

What Does a Superb Bird-of-Paradise Eat?

The primary diet of a Superb Bird-of-Paradise is made up of fruits and insects. Still, they will sometimes consume other creatures, including smaller birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

How Long Do They Live?

Superb Bird-of-Paradise
Image via YouTube

The Greater Superb Bird-of-Paradise has a lifespan of 5-8 years. Presumably, the Vogelkop variety’s lifespan is similar

They may be attacked by a number of predators in their lifetime, and are often killed by larger birds like hawks and owls. Snakes are another common predator of Birds-of-Paradise.

Other Interesting Facts About the Superb Bird-of-Paradise

Birds-of-Paradise are quite territorial. Males will fight to protect their space.

They’re also quite noisy! Here’s a recording of a Superb Bird-of-Paradise in captivity:

Conservation Notes

The Greater Superb Bird-of-Paradise is listed as a species of Least Concern by conservationists, which means their numbers are strong! They are one of the most common birds in New Guinea.

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