Category Archives: Birds of Papua New Guinea

King of Saxony Bird-of-Paradise sings his song up in Tari Gap

WimpelträgerThe male King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise (Pteridophora alberti) performs his courtship song from a high point of view, from the bushy crown of a giant tree. It is actually the perfect habitat for a King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise. The King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise impresses with two long feathers on the head, which he can be moved to courtship with big muscles. They are reminiscent of pennants with their eye-catching structure and are clearly visible from a distance. Mowing forward his two extra-long head feathers he smashes his monotonous song, like a Common Grasshopper-warbler (Locustella naevia) high in the rainforest. At first we can only see the bird between leaves on the edge of a row of trees. Then the male King-of-Saxony even lets himself down to fly on a bare tree and from there extensively to shake with his two long feathers on the head. Back and forth, back and forth, he moves his two long feathers.

From Ambua Lodge we started in the afternoon by bus to higher elevations, above the clouds. This is the region known as Tari Gap in literature. From the road we wanted to observe the King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise. We were not out of the gate yet, Continue reading King of Saxony Bird-of-Paradise sings his song up in Tari Gap

Magnificent Bird-of-paradise in the rainforest

FurchenparadiesvogelHeavy rains during the last night made the path through the steep slopes of the rainforest almost impassable. Again and again I sink up to my knees in the mud while I try to follow my guide, who is carrying my luggage and using his machete to help us through the thicket of lianas and branches. Suddenly we hear a short whistle: That must be the courtship call of a Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus). Although we can spot no bird, a courtship area can be clearly seen in front of us on the forest floor. My guide builds a provisional hiding place out of leaves and a few hours later we visit the place again. But since it starts to rain again, no bird can be seen. Over the next five days I keep trying my luck in the hide, but unfortunately it rains almost all the time. Only in the rain breaks does a male stop by and inspect the courtship area. After all, I am rarely lucky enough to see a Red-bellied Pitta (Pitta erythrogaster) which is now split taxonomically and called a Papuan Pitta (Erythropitta macklotii). This species is extremely shy and difficult to observe. The annual rainfall in this area of ​​New Guinea is 6,000 millimeters, so rain (mostly at night) is quite the order of the day. I set my trip in the dry season, but unfortunately, according to the locals, I apparently had hit a particularly wet dry season. After that unsuccessful experience, I changed location to the Central Highlands around Mt. Hagen in the middle of the island. Here I was accomodated in the rustic lodge, the Kumul Lodge, and my success level developed much better. Here I shot the image of the blog, the female Crested Bird-of-paradise.

When the first scientists from Europe saw New Guinea’s birds-of-paradise at the beginning of the 19th century, they were completely perplexed: “I was too amazed to shoot the bird,” wrote the French Continue reading Magnificent Bird-of-paradise in the rainforest

Blue Bird-of-paradise near Ambua Lodge/ Papua-New Guinea

BlauparadiesvogelAt 5:00 a.m. the night in the Ambua Lodge, a luxurious mountain hotel, is over. Today a trip around Ambua Lodge in the Southern Highlands is announced. After breakfast we start driving. It is still quite dark, but it does not rain. The target species of our morning observations are the Blue Bird-of-paradise (Paradisornis rudolphi) and the Superb Bird-of-paradise (Lophorina superba).

Our guide, Benson, drives us to hurry. After a short drive, stop on the edge of a small settlement and in a rush, Benson leads us on narrow paths over a steep slove and a valley up again on a hill. Here is an invisible border. We cannot go any further. The village beyond the border does not give permission to enter their gardens and fields. We are now on a small agricultural plateau at about 1,900 m (asl). The distance offers a beautiful, mist-covered view on old primeval trees. This is the place to see the Birds-of-paradise. On small birds Benson calls Brown Quail (Synoicus ypsilophorus) and Iceland Leaf-Warbler (Phylloscopus poliocephalus), which is also called New Guinea Leaf warbler probably belong in the area to the subspecies giulianettii. Our second guide, Peter, takes me aside after a short time. He has a very special job for my camera, which he wanted to show me. So we walk through allotments, intensively farmed, narrow sunken paths, past pigsties until we come to a collection of huts, where also some fruity trees exist. Here the photographer can get started. A female Blue Bird-of-Paradise quickly appears. Even the male of the Blue Bird-of-Paradise does not take a long time before coming in. The male Blue Bird-of- Continue reading Blue Bird-of-paradise near Ambua Lodge/ Papua-New Guinea

Lawes’s Parotia in Ambua Lodge/ Papua-New Guinea

Blaunacken-ParadiesvogelAt 5:00 a.m. the night in the mountain hotel is over. 5:30 a.m. breakfast is announced. Afterwards we are guided straight to a fruiting tree to observe Birds-of-paradise at the bungalow no. 7. The inconspicuous green and black berry tufts lure Birds-of-paradise again and again. Here you might find the Lawes Parotia (Parotia lawesii). We are rewarded very fast. A female feeds intensively in the low canopy of the fruiting tree.

The species belonging to the genus Parotia is probably one of the most sophisticated dancers among birds and even among the Birds-of-paradise. The males of these petite birds compete on the ground and cultivate “their” place with great effort. The males are considered polygynous, i.e. they are having two or more mates, either simultaneously or successively. Parotias have promiscuous males that entertain terrestrial courts seasonally. The male cleans his arena of leaves and twigs and decorates it with snakeskin, mammal dung, chalk, fur, feathers and bones. Any leaf that falls on the empty arena is removed immediately, so nothing disturbs the upcoming performance. Sometimes the decoration of neighboring courts is stolen. When females arrive and sit down on a branch above the arena, the male begins its unique ballerina dance. With splayed feathers, which actually remind of a skirt, he trip on the floor back and forth. He shakes his head and moves his six wire-like feathers of the head, which he has now pointed forward. Then the Continue reading Lawes’s Parotia in Ambua Lodge/ Papua-New Guinea

Willie Wagtail at a nest

GartenfächerschwanzRight from the boat in a loop of the Kwatu River (one of the tributaries of the mighty Fly River), we discover an open-topped bowl of the Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) which is also written Willie-wagtail. I have to photograph the nest with the 3 nestlings. We see how an adult Willie Wagtail has brought a dragonfly to its brood. Early in the nestling period, the chicks are unable to eat such large prey, but they are now fairly well developed and almost ready to leave the nest.

The nests of Fantails of the family Rhipiduridae in general are smooth, bowl-shaped structures. Both sexes contribute to the nest- building process, which takes 8-15 days. The first stage involves twisting spider’s webs around the chosen branch or fork to create a platform. The second involves building up the outer walls with rootlets, bark strips and plant fibers. During the final stage the whole structure is plastered with spiders’ webs, which are gathered using the head or body and then wiped over the cup to bind the materials together. The nest of the Willie Wagtail is comparatively robust and therefore usually built on top of a broad branch or other level surface.

Because incubation begins with the last egg, hatching is synchronous in Fantails, and as a result it is usual for all members of a brood to fly within a period of a few hours. Observations of this Continue reading Willie Wagtail at a nest

Parrots in Papua New Guinea

New Guinea is an island located just south of the equator. New Guinea is home to 46 species of parrots (s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrots_of_New_Guinea), which makes it the third most diverse biogeographic region in parrot diversity, after the continent of South America which harbours about 100 species and Australia which has 57 species.
New Guinea on the other side is only a fraction as big in land mass as these two zones. Thus making New Guinea’s parrot diversity truly spectacular.
New Guinea is the land of Eclectus Parrots, Pesquest’s Parrot, Lories, Cockatoos, Fig-parrots, but also of Fruit-Doves, Honeyeaters, Cassowaries and of course Birds-of-Paradise. Because of its astounding variety of habitats due to topography and the influence of tropical climate, New Guinea supports over 700 species of birds.
New Guinea shares three species of cockatoos and five species of true parrots with Australia and other islands. 38 species of parrots are endemic to the island of New Guinea and minor offshore islands.
A good example of PNG´s richness in birds is the Eclectus Parrot, Eclectus roratus. Continue reading Parrots in Papua New Guinea

Black Sittella in Papua New Guinea

In the Central Highlands of PNG I found this nice Black Sittella (Daphoenositta miranda) . This species belongs in the Neosittidae family. It is found in several mountainous areas in New Guinea. There is not much known about this close relative of the more common Varied Sittella. Even Wikipedia does not show much more. For more details of Black Sittella (Daphoenositta miranda) – HBW 12, p. 641 or look at their website The subspecies kuboriensis occurs in the Central Highlands (Kubor Range and Mt Giluwe), in EC New Guinea. This nice male individuum Continue reading Black Sittella in Papua New Guinea