Superb Bird of Paradise

The superb bird of paradise is among one of several species of birds of paradise found in New Guinea. The males of these species are well known for their cape-like plumage, which they use in a unique mating ritual. When it performs this ritual, the feathers arrange themselves to look like a dark oval face with blue eyes and a smile, forming a smiley face. This bird is also known as the greater lophorina or the greater superb bird-of-paradise.

Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Aves
Passeriformes
Paradisaeidae
Lophorina
L. superba

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Aves
Passeriformes
Paradisaeidae
Lophorina
L. superba

Superb Bird of Paradise

Description

Size: Length: Male: 10.2 in (26 cm) Female: 9.8 in (25 cm)

Weight: Male: 2.1-3.7 oz (60-105 g) Female: 1.9-3 oz (54–85 g)

Wingspan: 22 in (56 cm)

Body and Coloration: These birds are sexually dimorphic. Males are mostly black, with the rest of their plumage including an iridescent green crown, blue-green breast cover, and a long, raised, velvety-black cape flowing down its back. The female is reddish-brown, with a brownish barred buff on the underside. The young are similar in appearance to the female, with juvenile males developing their unique plumage as they grow and mature sexually.

  • Video

Range and Distribution

These birds live in New Guinea, with some being observed in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Habitat

They live in rainforests and mountainous regions, often spotted on tree tops.

Vogelkop Superb Bird of Paradise

Diet

The majority of their diet comprises of fruits and insects, but they have been spotted feeding on small birds, frogs, and reptiles.

Lifespan

On average, the greater Lophorina lives for 5-8 years.

Behavior

  • The males are quite territorial, fiercely guarding small areas of around 1.2 ha.
  • They are very vocal, using loud calls to attract a mate.

Predators

Notable predators include birds of prey such as hawks and owls as well as snakes.

Superb Bird of Paradise Image

Adaptations

  • These birds have strong feet that allow them to perch on branches, while also letting males to maintain their balance while performing their courtship dances.
  • Their beaks are strong enough to crack open nuts and peck the skins of certain fruits.

Mating and Reproduction

There are considerably fewer female superb birds of paradise compared to the males. This leads to the males needing to put on an extravagant courtship exhibition in order to attract a mate. After starting off with a simple dance, the male begins preparation for a high intensity display. He prepares a “dance floor” and then calls out to females. Once a female bird approaches, the male springs up their cape of folded black feathers and blue-green chest feathers around his head, forming an ellipse. The male dances around the female, snapping his tail feathers, continuing to do so for about several hours a day.

On average, a female will reject 15-20 males before choosing someone. They are polygynous, with the males mating with multiple females.

Superb Bird of Paradise Female

Life Cycle

These birds build their nests on treetops using materials like leaves, with 1-3 eggs laid after every mating season. After 16–22 days, the eggs hatch. The chicks become independent after 16–30 days and can leave their nest.

Males become sexually mature at 4-7 years. Around the same time, they develop their feathers for their courtship displays. The females develop sexual maturity quickly at 2-3 years.

Male Superb Bird of Paradise

Conservation Status

As per the IUCN, the superb bird of paradise is classified as “Least Concern” or “LC”. Though it is one of the most popular birds of paradise with high demand for its plumage feathers globally, its population remains stable in its native range.

Superb Bird of Paradise Picture

Interesting Facts

  • This bird was the only species in the genus until two other species were identified in 2017. These are the lesser superb bird-of-paradise and the Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise.

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