As Spring marches on (no pun intended), the trees are beginning to grow new leaves, flowers and bushes are coming into bloom, and the birds are starting to migrate back to their summer homes. Birds are well known for using their singing abilities to attract mates and defend territories, but did you know that some birds use dancing to woo their loves? And did you also know that the 2010 Dance Dance Revolution champion was an albatross named Jessica? Sorry about that. Anyway, some of my favorite birds are the birds of paradise, which live primarily in Papua New Guinea. Many male birds of paradise have brilliantly-colored plumage and engage in extravagant displays. Let’s take a trip to paradise and see some of these cool birds in action!
The Blue Bird-of-Paradise is well known for its bold colors and fancy dance moves. Unfortunately, this bird is threatened in some regions due to habitat loss and hunters looking for nice feathers. Blue Birds-of-Paradise are often found in tropical forests, where they forage for berries and other fruits in the canopy. They have a bold white eye ring and blue wings. Males can be distinguished from females by the tail feathers (males have longer plumes) and the underparts (males have dark bellies while females have chestnut bellies). During the mating season, the males of this species will gather at display grounds to impress females. These areas, referred to as leks, offer males an opportunity to impress passing females who come for the show. The males will make calls, spread out their wings to show off their plumage, and swing upside-down during courtship displays!
Left – female, right – male displaying.
The next dancer is the Greater Bird-of-Paradise. Males of this species have beautiful plumage and eye-catching tail plumes. These birds feast primarily on fruit and insects, and males will hop around on tree branches in an effort to attract the ladies. Instead of trying to describe their ritual, I’ll let you watch two males in action! Their calls make me laugh!
Another interesting bird is the smaller King Bird-of-Paradise. These birds usually feed on fruits and insects, though they occasionally get bloodthirsty and will hunt small tree kangaroos 3 times their size! They also rule over the tropical forests and push out any birds that annoy them. Okay, I may have made a few things up, but I’m sure at some point in history a King Bird-of-Paradise has touched a tree kangaroo. Though females are plainly colored brown, males have bright red colors, blue feet, and long tail wires used in displays. Males will strut around on tree branches while making a variety of vocalizations to attract females. They also spread their wings and shake the tail wires to enhance their attractiveness.
Hopefully you’re now getting a taste of the beauty and wonder of these awesome birds! My next blog will have details on more birds-of-paradise, but for now, you should take what you learned about these birds and apply it to your workplace so that you can impress others. Me? I’m going to work on a few dance moves in the trees and practice my courtship calls.