Spectacular Fans of Feathers Define the Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise Courtship Ritual

The Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise may look like the Superb Bird-of-Paradise, the hopping black bird with iridescent blue ‘eyes’ and a ‘mouth’ in its outspread wings, but the Vogelkop has recently been named as a separate species. As seen in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology video above, the two species are genetically distinct, their calls sound different, the females look different, and the males have different mating behaviors.

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Both endemic to New Guinea, the Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise can be found on the Vogelkop Peninsula, “which is separated from the rest of the island by a mountain range.” From Audobon.org:

The new footage confirms that the western species has a unique mating display. Its black “background” is crescent-shaped, and the blue breast feathers that form the “mouth” point downward and droop—turning that smile into a frown, or maybe a mustache. And when dancing, the Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise doesn’t bounce at all. “He does a really fast side-shuffle with his feet,” [scientist and photojournalist Ed] Scholes says, which gives the impression of smooth sliding. He snaps his wings as he goes, but it has no connection to his movement. The overall effect is quite different.

Compare both birds in these videos from the Cornell Lab

…and from the BBC’s Planet Earth, narrated by Sir David Attenborough:

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