Friday, October 28, 2016

Superb Bird-Of-Paradise: A Master of Disguise

Superb bird-of-paradise

Birds of paradise are some of the most colorful and eye-catching exotic birds on the planet. Among them is the striking superb bird-of-paradise or Lophorina superba, which is native to the rainforests of New Guinea. These little creatures measure around 10 inches and are known mostly for the males' frankly hilarious mating display.

When at rest, the male superb bird-of-paradise is relatively normal in appearance. It does have bluish-green iridescent feathers at its chest and head, but that is all that is visible. However, this bird is hiding some special features that he uses to attract a mate. The pretty feathers at his chest are actually part of a shield. Some of the black feathers along his back are part of what is known as his cape. He can manipulate the colored feathers on his head and some black ones along his bill in conjunction with these other parts to masquerade for the ladies.

After meticulously cleaning an area on a branch, the male superb bird-of-paradise calls out to the honeys. When one approaches, he lifts his breast shield, cape, head and bill feathers until they line up to give him the appearance of a deep black elliptical creature with shining blue-green markings. Once he's got the right look, he hops about on his branch, making sure to keep his huge disguise facing his potential mate. While he hops, he snaps his tail feathers together, creating a sharp, repetitive clacking noise.

In contrast, the females and young of the species blend into their surroundings. They have reddish-brown uppers with brown chests and bellies. These ladies don't let their average looks stop them from being notoriously picky. There are more of them than there are of the flashy males, so they feel comfortable refusing up to 20 potential mates before finally settling in to make a family.

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