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Birds of Paradise: Paradisaeidae

King Bird Of Paradise (cicinnurus Regius): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The male king bird of paradise can be spotted by his brilliant red coloring and two long, wire-like ornamental tail feather shafts, which are tipped at the bottom with a circular swirl of bright green feathers. His underside is white, with a green band across the chest. The male also has a black spot over each eye. Both male and female have blue legs and feet; the female's coloring is much more subdued with an olive-brown back, head, and throat and a variegated buff chest. Both are about 6.3 to 7.25 inches (16 to 19 centimeters) in length, not counting the added length of the male's tail, which may be as long as the body.

Geographic range: The species is found on the New Guinea mainland and on surrounding islands, including Aru, Missol, Salawati, and Yapen.

Habitat: King birds of paradise live in lowland rainforests, forest edges, and secondary forests. The female builds her nest in cavities of lower trees, and the male selects short, shrubby trees to perform his display (or courtship ritual) upon.

Diet: The species eats both fruit and insects.

Behavior and reproduction: Males perform their courtship ritual of persistent calling and displaying of plumage in solitude rather than in a lek (or cluster of other male birds of the species). During the display, they pose with their tail wires extended so that the green disks they are tipped with are over their heads. They may also hang upside down from a tree branch.

Male king birds of paradise are polygynous, and once they mate they move on to attracting the next female, while the female goes on to lay her eggs and incubate and feed her chicks by herself.

King bird of paradise and people: The bright feathers and skins of the male king birds of paradise are sometimes sought after by native men of New Guinea, but for the most part the bird enjoys a harmonious relationship with people.

Conservation status: King birds of paradise are abundant and not considered to be threatened. ∎



Dickinson, Edward C., ed. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, 3rd ed. Princeton, NJ and Oxford, U.K.: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Frith, Clifford B., and Bruce Beehler. The Birds of Paradise. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Harrison, Colin James Oliver. Birds of the World. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

Simpson, Ken and Nicolas Day. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, 4th ed. Ringwood, Australia: Viking O'Neil, 1993.


Clode, Danielle. "Kicked Out of Paradise." Nature Australia 26, no. 12 (Autumn 2001): 15.

Smith, Dwight G. "On Heaven's Wings." World & I 12, no. 11 (November 1997): 184.

Web sites:

"2003 BirdLife's Online World Bird Database." BirdLife International. http://www.birdlife.org (accessed on June 14, 2004).

"Animals of New Guinea: Birds of Paradise." World Wildlife Foundation. http://www.worldwildlife.org/expeditions/newguinea/spec_bop.cfm (accessed on June 14, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsBirds of Paradise: Paradisaeidae - Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia (astrapia Mayeri): Species Accounts - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, BIRDS OF PARADISE AND PEOPLE