Magnificent riflebird

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Magnificent riflebird
Magnificent Riflebird.jpg
Male magnificent riflebird perched.
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paradisaeidae
Genus: Lophorina
L. magnifica
Binomial name
Lophorina magnifica
Vieillot, 1819

Ptiloris magnificus

Craspedophora magnificus

The magnificent riflebird (Lophorina magnifica) is a species of passerine bird of the family Paradisaeidae.

Magnificent Riflebirds are widely distributed throughout lowland rainforests of western New Guinea and the northern Cape York Peninsula.

A widespread and relatively common species throughout its range, the magnificent riflebird is evaluated as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.


The species formerly was named Ptiloris magnificus. Following further taxonomic analysis, the riflebirds were integrated within the Lophorina genus with the Superb and Vogelkop Superb Birds-of-Paradise, and the species was reclassified as Lophorina magnifica. This species used to be placed in its own genus, Craspedophora Gray, 1840, which is now a subgenus of Ptiloris/Lophorina[2]

Nominate male at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center. Note its brilliant, scaly, iridescent, delta-shaped breast plate.


This riflebird is a medium-sized bird, being up to 34 cm long. The male is velvet-black bird-of-paradise with elongated black filamental flank plumes, an iridescent blue-green crown, a wide, triangle-shaped breast shield, and on central tail feathers. It has a black curved bill, yellow mouth, blackish feet and a dark brown iris. The female is brownish with dark spots and buff bars below with a white brow. The immature male resembles the male but with less tail plumes.[3]

Behavior and Biology[edit]

The diet of the magnificent riflebird consists mainly of fruits and a variety of invertebrates such as spiders, millipedes, etc.[3] Males are polygamous and perform solitary courtship displays on a 'dancing perch'. During these displays, the male fully extends his wings and raises his tail; he jerks upward while swinging his head from side to side, showing off his metallic blue-green breast shield, and producing a distinctive "woosh" sound as he flaps his wings. Multiple females will observe these displays, and, if satisfied with the performance, reward the male with mating rights. Females subsequently build nests, incubate, brood, and feed young without male assistance.[4]

Nominate female at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center. Note the exceptional sexual dimorphism present in the species.

Taxonomy and Subspecies[edit]

Now considered a separate species, the Growling Riflebird (Lophorina intercedens) is still occasionally considered conspecific with the Magnificent Riflebird, though genetic analysis proved it to merit specific status. The Magnificent Riflebird has two subspecies:

  • Lophorina magnifica alberti Vieillot, 1819
  • Lophorina magnifica magnifica, Elliot, 1871


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Ptiloris magnificus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Schodde, Richard (July 2010). "Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows.— Josep del Hoyo , Andrew Elliott , and David Christie , Eds. 2009. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain. 893 pp., 51 color plates, 655 color photos, 484 distribution maps. ISBN 9788496553507. Cloth binding. $267.00". The Auk. 127 (3): 714–717. doi:10.1525/auk.2010.127.3.714. ISSN 0004-8038.
  3. ^ a b Frith, C.; Frith, D. (2016). "Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus)". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
  4. ^ "Magnificent Riflebird (Lophorina magnifica)". Retrieved 2019-10-01.