New videos from Cornell University – above and below – provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of a newly recognized Bird-of-Paradise species, found only in New Guinea’s far-western Bird’s Head, or Vogelkop, region. For centuries, ornithologists thought this bird species was the same as another Bird-of-Paradise, found throughout New Guinea, whose otherworldly, bouncy, “smiley face” courtship dance is shown in the early part of the video above. But, in a new paper published April 16, 2018, in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ, scientists document the differences between the two Bird-of-Paradise species.
Evolutionary biologist Ed Scholes with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds-of-Paradise Project said:
After you see what the Vogelkop form looks like and acts like in the wild, there’s little room for doubt that it is a separate species. The courtship dance is different. The vocalizations are different. The females look different. Even the shape of the displaying male is different.
Thus the earlier known species is now called a Greater Superb Bird-of-Paradise. And the newly recognized form is now called simply a Superb Bird-of-Paradise. It’s the fourth Bird-of-Paradise species to be found in Indonesia. Both the older known species and the newer one are fascinating examples of nature’s variety.
Read more from Cornell University, and watch the Superb Bird-of-Paradise’s mating dance, below.
Bottom line: New videos from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology show the distinctive song, dance and courtship display of the Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise of New Guinea.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.