Facts about the animal kingdom

Types of Birds-of-Paradise Species

María Luz Thurman
By María Luz Thurman, Biologist/ornithologist. July 3, 2023
Types of Birds-of-Paradise Species

Birds-of-paradise are types of passerine birds of the family Paradisaeidae. Their name is evocative of tropical beauty, something warranted both by the fact their natural habitat is tropical rainforest and their plumage is some of the most beautiful on any bird species in the world. There are 45 known species, but they do not only stand out for their beauty. They also display some of the most fascinating behaviors in the animal kingdom. In addition to the unique characteristics of their species, they also play vital roles within their ecosystem. In particular, they play vital roles as seed dispersers and pest controllers.

At AnimalWised, we get to know these beautiful animals in greater depth by discovering the different types of birds-of-paradise species. This list of birds-of-paradise with photos also provides insight into their behaviors.

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  1. What are birds-of-paradise?
  2. Classification of birds of paradise
  3. Different types of birds-of-paradise
  4. Bird-of-paradise diet
  5. Bird-of-paradise habitat

What are birds-of-paradise?

Before we discover the different birds-of-paradise species, we can look at a little general background on these animals. Birds-of-paradise are known for their extraordinary appearance and impressive courtship displays. Their natural habitat is the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea, eastern Indonesia and parts of Australia. These exotic birds possess vibrant, showy plumage. Their colors include intense shades of:

  • Red
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Black
  • White

Not only are these colors vibrant on their own, they combine to make various patterns. Some of these are iridescent and intricate, others are more stark and bold. Males tend to have a more showy plumage than females. Some species also have elongated feathers which form unique body shapes and extravagant morphologies. Take a look at the different types of bird feathers to learn more.

There is also great diversity among the different types of birds-of-paradise in terms of size. Some are relatively small, such as the King bird-of-paradise (Cicinnurus regius) which grows up to around 7.5 " (19 cm), excluding tail feathers. Others can be larger, such as the greater bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea apoda) which can be as long as 19" (48 cm). Many have strong legs with sharp claws which helps them climb agilely through their arboreal environment.

These birds are famous for their elaborate courtship displays. During the mating season, the males perform dance rituals and display their dazzling plumage to attract females. These displays may include complex movements, wing spreading, balancing and jumping. Some species even have specialized anatomical structures which they incorporate in these displays, such as elongated feathers or shiny fins.

Female birds-of-paradise generally have a more understated, but still elegant appearance. Their plumage is usually less vibrant in color and their main objective is to evaluate the displays of the males in order to choose the most suitable mate.

In addition to their striking appearance and behavior, birds of paradise play an important role in the ecosystems where they live. They are omnivorous birds and feed on fruits, insects and small animals. These behaviors perform the role of seed dispersers and pest controllers. Their presence in tropical forests contributes to the overall ecological balance and the diversity of species.

Unfortunately, these birds also face threats. Deforestation and the illegal trade in exotic plumage are two of the most significant. That is why it is crucial to raise awareness about the importance of protecting their habitat and conserving these magnificent birds to guarantee their survival. Not only will it preserve their unique beauty, but it will help maintain these ecosystems into the future.

Classification of birds of paradise

As stated in the introduction, birs-of-paradise are passerine birds. Commonly known as perching birds, this means they are of the order Passeriformes which is the largest order of birds. It contains around half of all bird species.

While there are certain similarities they all share, this order is broken down into many subcategories due to the great diversity of species. This is why birds-of-paradise are in the family Paradisaeidae, of which several subfamilies and genera are recognized.

Some of the most prominent genera of birds-of-paradise are:

  • Paradisaea: includes species such as the Raggi's bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) and the emperor bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea guilielmi).

  • Astrapia: includes species such as the ribbon-tailed astrapia (Astrapia mayeri) and the Princess Stephanie's astrapia (Astrapia stephaniae).

  • Epimachus: includes species such as the black sicklebill (Epimachus fastosus) and brown sicklebill (Epimachus meyeri).

  • Paradigalla: comprises the species long-tailed paradigalla (Paradigalla carunculata) and short-tailed paradigalla (Paradigalla brevicauda).

  • Phonygammus: is a genus comprising only one species, the Trumpet manucode (Phonygammus keraudrenii).

These genera are divided into individual species that exhibit a wide diversity of characteristics and adaptations. Each species of bird-of-paradise has its own particularities in terms of its plumage, size, habitat and behavior.

It should be noted that the classification of birds of paradise may be subject to change. As research is conducted, new species are discovered or taxonomic relationships are reassessed. Each species has unique characteristics in terms of plumage, size and behavior. This distinguishes them and makes each one special. However, they all share the beauty and elegance that has made them symbols of admiration and fascination throughout the world.

You can see some of these beautiful birds for yourself with the photos below:

Types of Birds-of-Paradise Species - Classification of birds of paradise

Different types of birds-of-paradise

This family is divided into approximately 45 species and 17 genera in total. Some of the best-known bird-of-paradise species include:

  • Goldie's bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea decora)
  • Wilson's bird-of-paradise (Cicinnurus respublica)
  • Superb bird-of-paradise (Lophorina superba)
  • King of Saxony bird-of-paradise (Pteridophora alberti)
  • Twelve-wired bird-of-paradise (Seleucidis melanoleuca)
  • Red satinbird (Cnemophilus macgregorii)
  • Carola's parotia (Parotia carolae)
  • Western parotia (Parotia sefilata)
  • Ribbon-tailed astrapia (Astrapia mayeri)
  • Curl-crested manucode (Manucodia comrii)

See more birds-of-paradise photos below:

Types of Birds-of-Paradise Species - Different types of birds-of-paradise

Bird-of-paradise diet

Birds of paradise feed mainly on ripe fruits found in their environment. They consume a variety of fruits, such as berries and fleshy fruits. They can also obtain nectar from flowers, using it as a source of energy. Some are particularly well adapted for this such as the sicklebills which have a longer bill to enter flowers.

Although their diet is predominantly frugivorous, some species of birds of paradise supplement their diet with insects and small animals. These can include flies, spiders, earthworms and other invertebrates that they find in the soil or among vegetation. Insects provide protein and other important nutrients to their diet.

Being mainly arboreal birds, they look for ripe fruits on the branches and feed on them. In addition, they can catch insects and other small animals that they find on the leaves or on the bark of trees. It is important to note that the specific diet may vary between different species of birds of paradise, as each may have its own particular preferences and adaptations.

Learn more about fruit-eating animals with our article on frugivorous animal species.

Bird-of-paradise habitat

This family of birds is native to the tropical regions of Oceania, specifically found in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia and some nearby islands. These birds are adapted to different types of habitats within these regions, from lowland tropical rainforests to higher altitude montane forests.

Birds-of-paradise prefer to live in wooded areas, where they can find a wide variety of food resources and suitable habitats for their behavior and reproduction. They are found primarily in dense, well-developed forest areas. This is where there is an abundance of tall trees, dense vegetation and a diversity of plant species.

Each species of bird of paradise has specific preferences regarding its habitat within these regions. Some species may primarily inhabit lowland forest, while others may prefer higher altitude montane habitats. In addition, these birds may also occupy transition areas, such as riparian forests and clearings within the forest.

Learn more with our sister site thedailyECO and their guide to the different types of forests.

If you want to read similar articles to Types of Birds-of-Paradise Species, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

  • Beehler, B.M. (1989). The birds of paradise . Scientific American, 261(6), 116-123.
  • Gregory, P. (2020). Birds of paradise and bowerbirds . Bloomsbury Publishing. 414pp.
  • Heads, M. (2001). Birds of paradise, biogeography and ecology in New Guinea: a review . Journal of Biogeography, 28(7), 893-925.
  • Ligon, RA, Diaz, CD, Morano, JL, Troscianko, J., Stevens, M., Moskeland, A., ... & Scholes III, E. (2018). Evolution of correlated complexity in the radically different courtship signals of birds-of-paradise . PLoS biology, 16(11), e2006962.
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Types of Birds-of-Paradise Species