Image of the Day: Bird-of-Paradise

A unique courtship dance clued researchers in to the fact that they had a new species on their hands.

Apr 25, 2018
The Scientist Staff, The Scientist Staff

Cape presentation display of L. superba (A, C, E) and L. niedda (B, D, F)EDWIN SCHOLES, TIM LAMAN

Birds-of-paradise (Aves: Paradisaeidae), a family of passerine birds that includes more than 40 species, have an elaborate courtship display. The male dances frenetically, showing off brightly colored plumage and calling to his mate. Now, researchers have identified a new species in the bird-of-paradise genus Lophorina by analyzing the first-ever audiovisual recordings of its courtship dance. They describe their findings in a study published last week (April 16) in PeerJ

The new species, L. niedda, is the fourth bird-of-paradise species found in the Bird’s Head region of Indonesian New Guinea. Its courtship routine begins with more-intense shaking of its cape—a set of ornamental feathers on its head and upper back—than its close cousin L. superba exhibits. It also includes a more-pronounced cape presentation later in the dance.

E. Scholes, T. Laman, “Distinctive courtship phenotype of the Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise Lophorina niedda Mayr, 1930 confirms new species status,” PeerJ, doi:10.7717/peerj.4621, 2018.