Ticking off the Aussie Birds of Paradise

Posted on Posted in Cape York, feathered, North QLD, South East QLD, Spotted!

As those of the birdwatching community would understand, it’s always satisfying to get a clean sweep and sight all of the members of one bird ‘family’. And nothing could be more exotic than covering the length of Queensland to see the four Australian-based ‘Birds of Paradise’ from the family Paradisaeidae. Admittedly, there are 40 Bird of Paradise species in total, the majority of which occur on New Guinea and surrounding islands. But you’ve got to start somewhere!

After chasing down the Paradise Riflebird (Ptiloris paradiseus) in Lamington National Park and then catching sight of the Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus) and Trumpet Manucode (Manucodia keraudrenii) in Cape York last year I couldn’t rest until I had ticked the fourth and final aussie Bird of Paradise off my list.

The Victoria’s Riflebird male (photo by Ian Montgomery birdway.com.au)

The final hurdle was the Victoria’s Riflebird (Ptiloris victoria), known to inhabit the wet tropics region of north QLD. When in Townsville early this year we took the opportunity to head up to the Paluma rainforest. By all accounts the Victoria’s Riflebird is pretty easy to find. Although they have a limited range they are fairly common throughout the year. At the top of Paluma range we ducked into a rainforest walking track not 20m from the road, and within 1 minute – a Victoria’s Riflebird appears. Sometimes it is that easy!

The Victoria’s Riflebird female spotted at Paluma rainforest (photo by J. Neilly)

This bird, named after the queen in 1848 is smaller than the other riflebirds but the male exhibits the same beautiful iridescent plumage and interesting mating displays that make them so speccy to watch. Of course when we pulled our cameras out the not-so-flashy female was the only one that would oblige. This excerpt from the Planet Earth documentary shows some of the New Guinea Birds of Paradise in all their glory. In fact, the elaborate plumage of the males of most species are what gives this family great appeal to ornithologists and collectors/hunters alike.

While I can’t deny feeling a little bit chuffed at seeing all of the Australian Birds of Paradise, the fact that there are 36 other stunningly adorned family members out there does make you want to plan a trip to New Guinea…

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