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10 Amazingly Colourful Birds of Paradise

Updated on June 18, 2014

Birds of Paradise on Earth


Thrilled by the stunning beauty of a place, people often call it 'heaven on earth'. Such a feeling is experienced in the tropical rain forests of Papua New Guinea, parts of Indonesia and Eastern Australia which are blessed with unique and spectacular birds known as birds-of-paradise. In striking contrast to their female counterparts, these birds are bewitching by virtue of their amazingly colourful plumage.

The misconception that these visitors from paradise are kept aloft by their plumage and they never touch earth till their death, makes this an interesting subject of study. With forty one species in this family of birds, their elongated feathers extending from different parts of the body make them unique and distinct from each other.

Stay with me to have a glimpse of these brightly coloured and attractive birds.

#1. Wilson's Bird of Paradise

Cicinnurus respublica
Cicinnurus respublica | Source

Wilson's bird, one of the most spectacular birds-of-paradise is endemic to Indonesia, primarily in the lowland rain-forests and hill forests of around 300 meters in the West Papuan islands of Waigeo and Batanta. This small bird is known for peculiar colours. The male is mainly red and black. It has yellow cape and a turquoise crown which is only a patch of bare skin with double cross blackish pattern on it. It has green breast, rich blue feet and two curved violet feathers. The female is entirely different which is brownish with bare blue crown.

The male Wilson's birds-of-paradise are known for their peculiar appearance and displaying splendor of their colours during courtship. They eat fruits and small insects and have been placed in the near-threatened category due to habitat loss.

#2. King Bird of Paradise

Cicinnurus regius
Cicinnurus regius | Source

King bird-of-paradise, a passerine, is the smallest and most widely distributed in the lowland forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. Approximately 16 cms in length, it is also reconised by the most vivid colours among birds-of-paradise. The combination of crimson and white with bright blue feet makes it a king. Its shoulders have green-tipped fan-like plumes. Another distinguishing feature is its two elongated tail wires, the tips of which are beautifully decorated with emerald green disk feathers.

As usual with these birds the females are unadorned and are brown birds with barring below. They eat fruits and arthropods. They are widely spread in New Guinea and classified as Least Concern in the Conservation Status.

#3. Raggiana Bird of Paradise

Paradisaea raggiana
Paradisaea raggiana | Source

Also called kumul, Raggiana Bird-of Paradise is widely distributed in southern and northeastern New Guinea and is a national bird of Papua New Guinea. It is popular because of its spectacular coloured feathers which are collected and worn during local festivals and ceremonies. It is about 13 inches long, is maroon brown with greyish blue bill. Males have a yellow crown and dark emerald-green throat. As usual with many such birds, the females are relatively dull with maroonish-brown colour and lacking long tail feathers.

It eats fruit and arthropods and is quite famous for shaking its feathers, clapping wings and moving head for its partner during courtship displays. It falls in the category of least concern in conservation status.

#4. Red Bird of Paradise

Paradisaea rubra
Paradisaea rubra | Source

Red Bird-of-Paradise presents unusual appearance because of glossy red feathers. Endemic in Indonesia, this beautiful bird is found in lowland forests and hill forests up to 600 meters elevation in Waigeo, Batanta and Gemien islands of West Papua. Looking multi-coloured, male is brown and yellow, iris is dark brown, legs are grey, bill is yellow, face is emerald green and plumes are ornamental red. Female is smaller in size, without ornamental red plumes and have dark brown face.

They eat fruit, berries and arthropods. During the breeding season the males attract females by performing elaborate courtship displays.

5. Ribbon-tailed astrapia

Astrapia mayeri
Astrapia mayeri | Source
Juvenile | Source

Known for their three feet long white tail, Ribbon-tailed astrapia are found in restricted ranges of the sub-alpine forests in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea and are near threatened. With velvet black body, the males have olive green and bronze plumage. Males have long ribbon like tails which don't help them to survive but could be problematic if entangled during flight. They, however, help them to attract female astrapia. Females are brown in colour and lack long tail feathers.

They use their bill to dig out insects from trees and ground. They love to eat fruit.

#6. Greater Bird of Paradise

Paradisaea apoda
Paradisaea apoda | Source
Feathers | Source

It is interesting to know how this species acquired the name. The trades skins taken to Europe initially were without legs (or feet), so Latin word apoda. It is one of the largest species and is distributed in lowland and hill forests in southwest New Guinea and Aru islands of Indonesia. Male has yellow crown, head and nape with brown back. The beautiful flank plumes are yellow at the base but turn white and also have maroon streaks. The plumage of female is unbarred maroon. In both sexes bills are blue and the iris yellow.

They love to eat fruit, insects and seeds. They are not threatened birds.

#7. Victoria's Riflebird

Ptiloris victoriae
Ptiloris victoriae | Source

Victoria's Riflebird is very small and endemic to wet tropics Atherton Tableland region of northeastern Queensland in Australia. It resides lowland to hill rain-forests and is one of the our birds-of-paradise indigenous to Australia. It is named after Queen Victoria of England, possibly due to resemblance of its plumage with the colour of uniform of riflemen in England.

The males have beautiful jet black plumage with sparkling green head and throat. They are known for very elaborate display of plumage, twisting and swinging of their heads to impress upon females who are red-brown in colour.

They eat small insects, fruit from the tree. They use their long-curved bills for tearing tree bark like woodpeckers.

#8. Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise

Seleucidis melanoleucus
Seleucidis melanoleucus | Source
Female - Seleucidis melanoleucus
Female - Seleucidis melanoleucus | Source

Famous for its 12 wire-like filaments emerging from rear of beautiful yellow plumes, this bird of paradise is velvet black. It has a long long black bill and red iris. Feet are pinkish and long-clawed. Again females are different, they are brown-coloured.

Its behaviour during courtship is noteworthy. There is a display of 12 wires and repeated brushing of female's face to sensationalize the partner. This is responded by putting the head in these wires.

A bird of least concern in conservation status, it is distributed throughout New Guinea and Salawati island of Indonesia. It is found in lowland forests and its breeding in captivity is difficult.

#9. Lesser Bird of Paradise

Paradisaea minor
Paradisaea minor | Source
Paradisaea minor
Paradisaea minor | Source

Lesser Bird-of-Paradise is often found in the lowland forests, swamp forests up to 1550 metres above sea level in Northern New Guinea and nearby Misool and Yapen islands. They are medium-sized and smaller than Greater Bird-of-Paradise. Males have dark emerald-green throat with yellow head and back. They have a pair of long tail-wires and have spectacular flank plumes which are yellowish at base but tend to fade towards the end. Females are with dark-brown head and whitish underparts.

Eating mainly fruit and insects, the polygamous males are known for their courtship displays. They perform undulating and floppy flights.

#10. King of Saxony bird-of-paradise

Pteridophora alberti
Pteridophora alberti | Source

King of Saxony bird-of-paradise is found in the rain forest regions of New Guinea, ranging from Weyland mountains to Kratke in Papua New Guinea. The natives call it 'Kiss-a-ba' linking with the male's loud call. The male has black head, chest and the top of the body but the underbody is buff-yellow. It has long ornamental head plumes which play important role during courtship display. The female is greyish brown.

Fruits, berries and arthropods are the primary diet. The males are known for hissing sound with simultaneous increase in tempo and lessening of volume. In spite of hunting for ornamental plumes, the species is listed as Least Concern in threatened species.

Your opinion about birds-of-paradise

Which of the ten birds-of-paradise appealed you the most?

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Submit a Comment

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 2 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Kelly, these birds deserve to be called Birds of Paradise. I am glad to know that you plan to have paradise in a corner in your house. Thanks for visiting. Have a nice day!

  • GmaGoldie profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 2 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


    I have decided to "decorate" my powder room with birds of paradise prints - antique chromatography prints from the turn of the century. I was 85% sure this was the direction I was headed until I read this hub and now I am 100% sure and very much energized. Thank you! Excellent photos and descriptions.

  • Larry Rankin profile image

    Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

    Just beautiful pictures! Great hub!

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Thanks, Blackspaniel1. I am glad you liked the birds. I wish I could see some of these. Have a nice day!

  • Blackspaniel1 profile image

    Blackspaniel1 3 years ago

    These are great, yet none of them fly here. we have birds, but none to compare.

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Alun, I am grateful to you for the thought-provoking comments. They need to be carefully observed to understand their behaviour and beauty. I wish I could get a chance to see some of these. Thanks for visiting and have a nice weekend.

  • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

    Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK

    Beautiful photos and excellent introduction to the extraordinary plumage of the birds of paradise. They are truly amazing birds. I voted for the Greater Bird of Paradise in your poll, but in truth the loss of any of these would be a tragedy for the world.

    And it should be made clear that colourful plumage isn't everything, even among the birds of paradise. Indeed some of the species with rather less spectacular plumage, compensate for this by having the most spectacular courtship dance routines and bizarre, out-of-this-world songs.

    They really have to be seen to be believed! Voted up. Cheers, Alun

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Radhika, it was quite thrilling to know and collect information about these birds. They are certainly not misnomers. Thanks for stopping by and all the support to this Hub. Have a nice time!

  • radhikasree profile image

    Radhika Sreekanth 3 years ago from Mumbai,India

    Inexplicable! I was having an out-of-the-world experience while going through this hub. These birds really impart a paradise ambiance wherever they perch. Such is their beauty being weaved by the eternal hands of God!!

    Voted up, beautiful, useful, awesome and interesting. Sharing in Hubpages.

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    aviannovice, People have gone there and photographed these birds. But I agree with you that it is difficult. It is better we enjoy the paradise without entering the territory. Thanks for stopping by and have a nice day!

  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    If I go to these parts of the world to photograph these birds, I may never return...

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    travmaj, Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you liked the birds. They are really magical. Have a nice day!

  • travmaj profile image

    travmaj 3 years ago from australia

    This is delightful, such beautiful birds, I can't choose one, they are all so delightful. What stunning colours. I enjoyed this hub very much.

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    literal, thanks for stopping by. It is difficult to be believe that they are there on this earth. I wonder if you have seen any of them. Your support for the Hub is welcome! Have a nice time.

  • literal profile image

    Rangiiria 3 years ago from Aotearoa

    Birds are beautiful they're mythical and magical. Voted: beautiful & thumbs up. Thanks

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Sunil, I am glad you liked these wonderful creatures. It is difficult to imagine their beauty and I wish I could see some. Thanks for stopping by. Have a nice time.

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    bethperry, I am glad you enjoyed the birds of paradise. I wish I could watch a few of them in their paradise. Thanks for visiting and have a nice weekend.

  • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

    Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 3 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

    It a wonderful article with stunning photos of some beautiful birds. I love these birds very much and what we call them is Love Birds. Watching them is a delight.

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

    You made my night with these beautiful photos! I voted for the ribbon-tailed astrapia, but it was a hard call to make!

    Thanks much for posting.

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Thanks for stopping by, Kevin. They are really colourful birds and are still surviving in their paradise, a small part of this earth. Have a nice weekend.

  • The Examiner-1 profile image

    The Examiner-1 3 years ago

    This was superb and it had beautiful photos of the birds. I loved perusing the explanation of each bird while I kept examining the color illustration of each Bird of Paradise. My favorite was the "Victoria's Riflebird". I gave this thumbs up and shared it.