|Lesser superb bird-of-paradise (Lophorina minor)|
All members sport a jet-black to black body found only in males, while their female counterparts sport brown upperparts (shade depends on the species) with barred underparts; they have a relatively long to shortish, slender, crow-like bill, and various ornaments. Superb, Vogelkop superb (or crescent-caped), and the disputed lesser superb birds-of-paradise, or lophorinas, have a distinctive cape found on the nape that they push forward, an iridescent blue-green crown, and an iridescent blue-greenish breast shield that appears to be "smiling" (L. superba) and "frowning" (L. niedda) that the males use to court females. When in full display, the birds look like an otherworldly cartoon character with a fully black face, blue eyes, and blue mouth as they hop and dance around a potential mate.
The riflebirds, however, sport an iridescent-blue throat shield, which is more or less visible in some species, and mostly all-black bodies. L. victoriae and L. paradisea have metallic greenish-blue, scale-like feathers on the belly to the undertail coverts, which they fluff up during their courtship displays. L. magnifica and L. intercedens have elongated filamental flank feathers that are extremely soft. Riflebirds' displays consist of the males expanding their rounded wings up over their heads to appear disk shaped, flapping the wings to make a woosh sound, and jerking their head side to side along with its throat shield, engulfing the female in his performance, often getting very close to her face.
The generic name "Lophorina" consists of the words lophos, meaning crest or tuft, and rhinos, meaning nose. The word literally means "tuft nose", which refers to the tufts present on the superb species above and behind each nostril.
The genus contains seven species:
- Superb bird-of-paradise, also known as the greater superb bird-of-paradise or as the greater lophorina, (Lophorina superba), the sole species in the genus until 2018.
- Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise, or crescent-caped lophorina (Lophorina niedda), elevated from subspecies to species in 2018
- Lesser superb bird-of-paradise, or lesser lophorina (Lophorina minor), though this species' validity is disputed. Generally considered a subspecies of Lophorina superba.
- Magnificent riflebird (Lophorina magnifica)
- Growling riflebird (Lophorina intercedens), once considered conspecific with L. magnifica, but was split on account of its smaller size and different physical and vocal characters.
- Paradise riflebird (Lophorina paradisea)
- Victoria's riflebird (Lophorina victoriae)
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