King of Saxony bird-of-paradise

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King of Saxony bird-of-paradise
Pteridophora alberti -Papua New Guinea-8.jpg
Male in Papua New Guinea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paradisaeidae
Genus: Pteridophora
A.B. Meyer, 1894
Species: P. alberti
Binomial name
Pteridophora alberti
Meyer, 1894

P. a. alberti
P. a. buergersi
P. a. hallstromi

The King of Saxony bird-of-paradise (Pteridophora alberti) is a bird in the bird-of-paradise family (Paradisaeidae). It is the only member in the monotypic genus Pteridophora. It is endemic to montane forest in New Guinea.


Adolf Bernard Meyer of the Dresden Museum described this species in the December 1894 bulletin of the British Ornithologist's Club.[2] Both the common name "King of Saxony" and the scientific specific name "alberti" were given to honour to the then king of Saxony, Albert of Saxony, whose wife gave her name to the Queen Carola's parotia.

The bird is sometimes referred to as "Kiss-a-ba" or "Leme" by the natives of Papua New Guinea and Western New Guinea, as a human interpretation of the male's loud call.


Illustration of male

The adult King of Saxony bird-of-paradise is approximately 22 cm long. The male is black and yellow with a dark brown iris, brownish-grey legs, a black bill with a bright aqua-green gape, and two remarkably long (up to 50 cm) scalloped, enamel-blue brow-plumes that can be independently erected at the bird's will.[3] The unadorned female is greyish brown with barred underparts.

The male's ornamental head plumes are so bizarre that, when the first specimen was brought to Europe, it was thought to be a fake.


The King of Saxony bird-of-paradise inhabits the montane forests of New Guinea, and is distributed from the Weyland Mountains in Western New Guinea to the Kratke Range and Mount Giluwe in Papua New Guinea between 1,300–2,850 meters above mean sea level, but usually between 1,800–2,500 meters above sea level.

Moulted head-plumes in good condition are sought by male Archbold's bowerbirds for use as decorations, and in turn collected from the courtship bowers by humans. Males are also hunted for their highly prized long plumes used by natives for ceremonial decoration, but despite this the species remains fairly common in parts of its range. It is considered to be of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.


Adult males are territorial. The male guards its territory from perches placed in the tops of tall trees, and from these perches sings to compete with males in neighbouring territories. While singing, the male moves his occipital plumes about. In 1996 David Attenborough filmed the first ever footage of the mating ritual of the bird.

The diet consists mainly of fruits, berries and arthropods.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Pteridophora alberti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Papua New Guinea Birds of Paradise (1990). William S. Peckover
  3. ^ "Pteridophora alberti". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved on 2015-10-01.
  • Galley Press. The World Atlas of Birds.

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