Vox Populi

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Video: This bird-of-paradise in New Guinea sounds like something from another planet

Endemic to the mountain forests of New Guinea, the King of Saxony bird-of-paradise (Pteridophora alberti) is best-known for the flamboyant, mate-attracting efforts of its males. Throughout their evolution, male birds-of-paradise have been under immense selective pressure to win the attentions of females. Even the King-of-Saxony’s extraordinary head wires aren’t quite enough. They’ve had to develop a display that includes waving their head plumes, rhythmically bouncing on a perch, and delivering an extraordinary screeching, buzzing, hissing call that sounds like anything but a bird.

The courtship displays – which often double as a means of keeping competitors at a comfortable distance – make use of bright yellow breast feathers, wildly waving head plumes and peppy dance maneuvers capped off with an exceptionally outsized, almost otherworldly bit of squawking. This video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides a glimpse into the world of this idiosyncratic little bird, which has proven notoriously difficult to photograph in its rugged natural habitat.

Director: Tim Laman

Websites: Cornell Lab of OrnithologyBirds of Paradise Project

Text adapted from Aeon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Running time: 4 minutes

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the video.

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King of Saxony bird-of-paradise

4 comments on “Video: This bird-of-paradise in New Guinea sounds like something from another planet

  1. Arlene Weiner
    May 17, 2020

    Then wear the gold hat, if it will move her;/ if you can bounce high, you must bounce high too/Till she says, “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,/I must have you.” (Epigraph to The Great Gatsby)

    Liked by 1 person

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