(Finsch & A.B. Meyer, 1885)
|Range of P rudolphi|
The blue bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea rudolphi) is a medium-sized bird-of-paradise.
Regarded by some ornithologists as the loveliest of all birds, the blue bird-of-paradise was discovered by Carl Hunstein in 1884. The scientific name commemorates the ill-fated Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria.
Due to ongoing habitat loss, limited range, small population size and, in some areas, by hunting for its highly prized plumes, the rare blue bird-of-paradise is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.
The species is approximately 30 cm long, black with a bluish-white bill, dark brown iris, grey legs, broken white eye-ring and bright blue wings. The male is adorned with violet blue and cinnamon flank plumes and two long ribbon-like tail feathers. The female has a chestnut brown below.
The male is polygamous and performs a breathtaking courtship display. But unlike all other Paradisaea species, he performs solitary with attending female nearby. In display, the male hangs from a branch upside down. The black oval with red margin at the centre of his chest is rhythmically enlarged and contracted. His violet blue plumes spread out in a fan, swaying its body back and forth while the central tail feathers form two impressive arches down to either side. Throughout his performance he vocalizes softly in a low but harsh vibrating voice.
The blue bird-of-paradise is endemic to Papua New Guinea. It is distributed to mountain forests of southeastern New Guinea. ITIS recognizes only one subspecies, but additional subspecies P. r. margaritae and P. r. ampla have been described. Handbook of the Birds of the World recognizes the former margaritae of East Central New Guinea and nominate rudolphi of South-east New Guinea.
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