Greater bird-of-paradise

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Greater bird-of-paradise
Paradisaea apoda -Bali Bird Park-6.jpg
Male at Bali Bird Park
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paradisaeidae
Genus: Paradisaea
Species: P. apoda
Binomial name
Paradisaea apoda
Linnaeus, 1758

The greater bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea apoda) is a bird-of-paradise in the genus Paradisaea.

Carl Linnaeus named the species Paradisaea apoda, or "legless bird-of-paradise", because early trade-skins to reach Europe were prepared without wings or feet by natives; this led to the misconception that these birds were beautiful visitors from paradise that were kept aloft by their plumes and never touched the earth until death.[2]

Greater bird-of-paradise on Indonesian rupiah
Obverse: Greater bird-of-paradise on a branch and face value. Reverse: Face value surrounded by country and year.
Total 1,035,435,000 coins minted in 1971. Coin demonetized in 2002.


The greater bird-of-paradise is the largest member in the genus Paradisaea, with males measuring up to 43 cm (17 in) (excluding the long twin tail wires). The female is smaller, at only 35 cm (14 in). The plumage of this species is also sexually dimorphic. The male has an iridescent green face and a yellow glossed with silver iridescence crown, head and nape. The rest of the body plumage is maroon-brown. The flank plumes, used in displays, are yellow at the base, turning white and streaked with maroon. The female has unbarred maroon brown plumage. In both sexes the iris is yellow and the bills blue.[3]


The greater bird-of-paradise is distributed to lowland and hill forests of southwest New Guinea and Aru Islands, Indonesia. The diet consists mainly of fruits, seeds and small insects. A small population was introduced by Sir William Ingram in 1909-1912 to Little Tobago Island of West Indies in an attempt to save the species from extinction due to overhunting for plume trades. The introduced populations survived until at least 1966,[4] but most likely are extinct now. The bird still appears on Trinidad and Tobago's $100 bill.


A common species throughout its native range, the greater bird-of-paradise is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.


Wallace noted in The Malay Archipelago, that they become active before sunrise, when their loud wawk-wawk, wǒk-wǒk-wǒk cries resound through the forest, as they move about in different directions in search of food.[5] They feed on fruit and arthropods, and birds in female-type plumage may forage in small groups along with other species.[6] Breeding is not strictly seasonal. Polygynous males display in leks.[6]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Paradisaea apoda". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Jobling, James A. (1991). A Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 15–16. ISBN 0-19-854634-3. 
  3. ^ Firth, Clifford B.; Firth, Dawn W. (2009). "Family Paradisaeidae (Birds-of-paradise)". In del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14, Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 487–488. ISBN 978-84-96553-50-7. 
  4. ^ Dinsmore, James J. (1970). "Courtship Behavior of the Greater Bird of Paradise". The Auk. 87 (2): 305–321. doi:10.2307/4083922. 
  5. ^ Rowley, G. D. (1877). Ornithological Miscellany. 2. London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 324–325. 
  6. ^ a b Frith, C.; Frith, D. "Greater Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea apoda)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 19 January 2018. 
  • The World Atlas of Birds. Galley Press. 

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