In the past few months Jase, Kate, Dan and I have made a several trips to Lamington National Park on the border of NSW and QLD. It is a magical place: World Heritage listed Sub-tropical Rainforest (think Fern Gully). Lamington is one of several ‘Gondwana Rainforests’ in Northern NSW and Southern QLD. These forests cover 0.3% of Australia but contain half of all Australian plant families and about a third of the Australia’s mammals and bird species. A biodiversity hotbed!
And did I mention it’s only a one hour drive from Brisbane? On our ‘to see list’ were two of the showiest birds in Australia: Albert’s Lyrebird (Menura alberti) and Paradise Riflebird (Ptiloris paradiseus).
On our first venture we glimpsed female Paradise Riflebirds tearing bark from trees and probing crevices with their long curved beaks looking for insects and spiders. We were stoked to tick off a new species but the male Paradise Riflebird is the real drawcard. Like most birds the males are the brighter, more colourful of the sexes. And in the bird world the flashiest man gets the girl.
On our second trip we got lucky. About 2km in from Binna Burra we stopped for a slice of fruitcake and heard a loud, harsh rasping followed by rustling feathers as a black bird flew directly over our heads! It was the elusive male, obviously not impressed that we had wandered into his patch.
The male Paradise Riflebirds put on an amazing display in an attempt to attract mates. With an expectant female looking on, the male sits on his display perch, fans his wings above his head, opens his bright yellow mouth and dances around. Amongst his velvet black plumage iridescent feathers shine green, purple and blue in the sunlight.
It is one of those things you have to see, watch this footage of the male bird displaying on a John Young doco (go to 3:57 mark for the display).