Friday, January 6, 2012

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia

Astrapia mayeri (male)
Though it does not bear the name, the Ribbon-tailed Astrapia is in fact a Bird-of-Paradise. They are endemic to a small range in central Papua New Guinea, where they are luckily still common due to their remote environment.

As with all Birds-of-Paradise, the Ribbon-tailed Astrapia is more spectacular looking in its male form. They have iridescent green, blue, and bronze plumage around their heads, and shiny black bodies. When full grown they sport the longest tail feathers (in comparison to body size) of any bird. Though their body length is only about one foot, their long white tail can grow to three or four feet!

Females are a duller brownish-black, and do not have a fancy tail. But then again, they don't need such flashy displays to mate. The males compete in a lek system, and jump from branch to branch flaunting their plumage. Females select who they want to breed with, and after doing the deed they go off to nest and incubate alone (where the camouflaging brown certainly comes in handy!)

Though they are common in their range, the fact that the range is so tiny has caused the bird to be listed as near Threatened. Interestingly, they share their little patch of land with another species, the Princess Stephanie's Astrapia, and the two are known to mate and produce hybrids. The genus name Astrapia is Greek for "flashing" which is very appropriate for a group of wonderfully plumed little show offs!

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : Papua New Guinea
Size : Body length up to 1ft (32cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Passeriformes
Family : Paradisaeidae -- Genus : Astrapia -- Species : A. mayeri

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