You may have heard of the King of the Jungle, but what about the emperor among the winged creatures of flight?
All Hail the Emperor!
The emperor bird-of-paradise is also known as the emperor of Germany’s bird-of-paradise.
In January 1888, the emperor bird-of-paradise was the last bird-of-paradise discovered by Carl Hunstein. He was also the one who came across the blue bird-of-paradise on his journeys. These two species, along with the red bird-of-paradise, are the only Paradisaea that perform inverted display.
The emperor bird-of-paradise is large, approximately 33 cm long. It is yellow and brown with a reddish-brown iris, bluish-grey bill, and purplish-brown legs. The males have an extensive dark emerald green face and throat with two black long tail wires and large white ornamental flank plumes that sway from side to side. The females are almost similar to the male, but have brown plumage with a black face and chest, are smaller in size, and have no ornamental plumes. Their voice sounds similar to a nasal “caw!” or an exciting whooping.
These birds are sexually dimorphic and polygynous. To grab the attention of females, males converge on each other and assume static displays, hop along branches, erect flank feathers and hang upside down, expanding flank plumes to form white disk while twisting side to side.
Breeding season lasts from September – December. Females alone have to build and attend to the nests. Not much information is available regarding their incubation, nestling and development periods.
The emperor bird-of-paradise is endemic to Papua New Guinea, hidden among the hill forests of the Huon Peninsula in the ranges of Saruwaged, Finisterre, Rawlinson, and Cromwell Ranges. Their diet consists mainly of fruits, figs, and arthropods.
Due to ongoing habitat loss, limited range, and overhunting in some areas, the emperor bird-of-paradise is evaluated as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed in Appendix II of CITES.
The short numbers do raise an alarm and so steps must be taken for the preservation. People must know of their existence and before it is too late, pay a visit to the emperor in paradise.
-by Claire Noble