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Superb bird-of-paradise description
Birds of paradise are famed for their elaborate plumage and fascinating, often bizarre, courtship displays, and the superb bird-of-paradise (Lophorina superba) is no exception . As in other species, the male and the female superb bird-of-paradise differ greatly in appearance, with only the male possessing the spectacular ornamental plumage while the female is rather drab and cryptically coloured .
The feathers on the upper breast of the male superb bird-of-paradise, known as the ‘breast shield’, are a particularly striking iridescent, metallic greenish-blue, and can be erected as part of the courtship display. The head is a velvety jet black, although the scale-like crown feathers are a metallic green-blue. The rest of the plumage is black, with variable sheens of purple, copper, magenta and green appearing in places. Long, black feathers on the back of the neck can be erected to form a cape during courtship. While the bill of the male superb bird-of-paradise is black, the inside of the mouth is bright yellow to green.
Much duller in comparison, the plumage of the female superb bird-of-paradise is a mixture of browns and greys, with black barring on the underside. The female is also much smaller than the male, with noticeably shorter wings. While the juvenile superb bird-of-paradise resembles the female in appearance, its plumage is softer and fluffier, and the feathers of the crown are darker. Immature males can be distinguished by their longer wings, and the gradual appearance of their brighter, adult plumage.
The call of the male superb bird-of-paradise is generally a loud series of screeching ‘shre’ or ‘scheee’ notes, and is used to attract females to the male’s territory.
There are currently five recognised subspecies of the superb bird-of-paradise, which vary slightly in appearance and also in their location: Lophorina superba superba, Lophorina superba niedda, Lophorina superba feminina, Lophorina superba latipennis and Lophorina superba minor.
- Also known as
- Superb bird of paradise.