Saturday 25 May
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise (Cicinnurus respublica)
- The spectacular male Wilson's bird of paradise has a yellow cape, a crimson back, a turquoise crown, a green breast and spiralling tail feathers.
- The turquoise crown of the male Wilson's bird of paradise is actually a patch of bare skin, rather than feathers.
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise description
The birds-of-paradise have long been recognised as beautiful and spectacular species, thanks to the diversity in ornamental plumage, dazzling array of colours and the exaggerated, often bizarre, courtship displays (4), and Wilson’s bird-of-paradise is certainly no exception. The male is easily distinguished by the brilliant turquoise crown of bare skin on the back of its head, which is criss-crossed by lines of fine velvety black feathers with a coppery-bronze iridescent sheen. A semicircular cape of bright yellow on the upper mantle contrasts with the crimson feathers on the rest of the back, while the upperwings are blackish-brown, with the coverts edged paler brown, and with crimson tips to some of the feathers. The upper throat of the male Wilson’s bird-of-paradise is usually velvety black, and may have a coppery-bronze to purple gloss, while the plumage of the extensive breast shield (the patch of feathers on the upper breast) is a glossy emerald-green, sometimes appearing blue-purple or red-purple. The central feathers of the tail are long and spiralled. The female is much less ornately adorned than the male, with the bare skin on the back of the head a much less radiant lilac-blue, and with olive to reddish-brown upperparts, dull brown wings and buff-coloured underparts, with fine uniform brown-black bars. The female also lacks the spiral tail feathers. Immature males are very similar in appearance to the female (2).
- Diphyllodes respublica. Top
BBC Wildlife Finder:
- Small feathers concealing the bases of larger flight feathers, usually on the wings or tail.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- In birds, the wings, shoulder feathers and back, when coloured differently from the rest of the body.
- Montane forest
- Forest occurring in the montane zone, a zone of cool upland slopes below the tree line dominated by large evergreen trees.
IUCN Red List (August, 2010)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Sargatal, J. (2009) Handbook of Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-Shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
CITES (August, 2010)
- Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
BirdLife International (August, 2010)
BirdLife: EBA Factsheet - West Papuan Lowlands (August, 2010)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise biology
The peculiar appearance of Wilson’s bird-of-paradise is shown in full splendour during its courtship display. The male performs the display in an ‘arena’, a small, well-lit clearing surrounded by dense forest. The male carefully attends to the arena, ensuring it is free of leaf litter and other unwanted items, and also removing the leaves of sapling stems within the display area. When a potential mate arrives, the male initially adopts a characteristic ‘frozen’ posture on the stem of a sapling, before responding to the visiting female by performing an intricate courtship ritual, exhibiting the attractive breast shield, and accompanying the display with song and calls. Very little else is known about the breeding behaviour of this elusive species (2).
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise feeds mainly on fruit and also some small insects (2).Top
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise rangeTop
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise habitat
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise primarily inhabits hill forest, usually at elevations of around 300 metres, although it has also occasionally been recorded calling in lowland rainforest and in higher montane forests, up to 1,200 metres (2) (5).Top
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise statusTop
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise threats
As Wilson’s bird-of-paradise has a fairly restricted range, it is likely that any changes to its habitat will have a serious negative effect in its population. Although the difficult terrain and lack of infrastructure on Waigeo mean that a large proportion of the forest remains intact, selective logging has been reported in the north, and a concession lease held by a mining company may threaten long-term survival of the natural habitat in future. Although Wilson’s bird-of-paradise is known to occur in Pulau Waigeo Nature Reserve, there are worries that this may have reduced greatly in size due to logging and natural causes (such as fire) (5). On Batanta there has been major forest loss due to logging, which has caused significant habitat degradation (5) (6).Top
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise conservation
Wilson’s bird-of-paradise is found within a protected reserve on the island of Waigeo, and it is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that levels of trade in the species are carefully monitored. Conservation measures which are currently proposed by BirdLife International include carrying out further research into the distribution, abundance, and habitat requirements of Wilson’s bird-of-paradise and its response to habitat fragmentation, as well as ensuring that the Pulau Waigeo Nature Reserve is protected from future logging activities (5).Top
Find out more
To find out more about birds-of-paradise, see:
To learn about wildlife conservation in West Papua, see:
For more information on this and other bird species please see:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.