The male and female of the raggiana bird of paradise are markedly different in their appearance.
Males have spectacularly colorful plumage which is used as part of their mating display’s during the breeding season. On the top of the head their feathers are yellow and under the throat they are green with a yellow collar between this green and the body. The rest of the body and wings are brown with some yellow marking on their lower coverts.The most noticeable feature of the males is their orange or maroon coloured tail feathers. These are light and airy to allow them to easily lift them above the body which they use for mating displays.
Females have a drab appearance in comparison to the males. Their body is covered with red brown across almost all of their back including the short tail feathers. On the back of their head is a patch of yellow feathers. The underside is lighter in colour.
Both genders have a pale bluish-grey beak and a yellow eye. Their legs are designed for holding on to branches and as such they have a toe which points backwards to improve grip on branches. The legs are coloured brown.
Females are slightly smaller than males. Their body measures between 33 and 34cm (13-13.4in) long. In males this is extended by the tail feathers which may be up to 91cm (3ft) long. They weigh between 198 and 340g (7-12oz).
Record 30 years
They are not able to digest seeds and as such they disperse these through their environment.
New Guinea is the native home of the raggiana bird of paradise. Here the live in the southern and eastern portion of the island.
They make their home in a range of forest habitats and can survive in some secondary forests which are regenerating.
The breeding season is lengthy starting in April and not ending till December.
Multiple males will gather in a single location known as a lek site. At the lek site multiple males will sit on a tree branch and display to the females. Their display involves raising the tail feathers over their head and back, hopping along a branch with the head lowered or raised and extending their wings.
The males decide among themselves who made the best display and these birds occupy the most prominent perch. Females then target these males as the ones to mate with. He will display a final time for her prior to mating. A male may mate with multiple females throughout the breeding season.
Following this the male ends his parental involvement and the female begins to build her nest. The nest is formed from leaves, ferns, orchids, twigs and moss and is shaped like a cup.
In to the nest the female will deposit 1-2 pink colored eggs. These are incubated for 18 days. At birth they have no feathers and the eyes are closed.
Young are in the nest for 17-23 days before fledging. They may remain with the parents for a longer period than this.
Hybirds of this bird can be produced between some of the other birds of paradise which are found in New Guinea.
Females and males can reach maturity at 4 years old. It may take males 7 years to develop impressive enough plumage to win mating rights with a female for the first time.
Raggiana birds of paradise are active during the day.
They are known to bathe in shallow forest ponds.
Predators and Threats
Few natural predators of the raggiana bird of paradise exist on New Guinea. They may be eaten by snakes or hawks.
Their main threat is humans. Their feathers have been used for a long time in traditional costumes. At one point they were prized for use in clothing in Europe. They have been protected since the 1920s when it was realized that some bird of paradise species were close to extinction.
At present their main threat is the timber industry which is clearing large parts of their habitat.
These birds inspired the name for the bird of paradise flower which resembles them.\
A male raggiana bird of paradise features on the flag and stamps of Papua New Guinea.
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By markaharper1 - Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise 5, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6439531
osaingre/ CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
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