Superb Bird-of-Paradise: Psychedelic Smiley Face

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When you see a Superb Bird-of-Paradise displaying, it doesn’t look like a bird at all. The change is so complete that females just see a jet-black disk with an electric-blue “smiley face” pattern. A close look at the transformation reveals how modified feathers on the head, back, and flank combine in an unexpected way to create a spectacular effect.

Filmed and photographed by Tim Laman and Ed Scholes.
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Comment (54)

  1. Fascinating and excellently done. I read on Wikipedia that this species has a highly skewed sex ratio but I could not find any other resources either supporting or refuting this claim – is this true?

  2. I wonder if any ancient tribes discovered this bird and thought it was some type of menace or demon or even a message from the gods….

  3. You know whats really interesting is that a lot of these types of birds showcase to females very similar patterns, mainly the huge black roundish disc and something iridescent within the disc. The ballerina bird from top view is similar to the horizontal view of this smiley-face bird.

  4. Is this narrated by Tim Laman? Or Ed Scholes? Oh, what wonders you have shown us!
    Thank You. Again and again. Thank you both, (and all others) Than you so very much.

  5. One of my all-time-favorite birds. Lots of good information here. I have a comment about 3:19. It looks more like the male is herding the female around, rather than reacting to her movements. Look at it in slow motion. Also, I have a comment about 3:50. Saying the male is exhausted just because you can see that he is breathing is not a logical scientific conclusion. Birds breathe. They fly (long distances!), they hop (a lot!), and they breathe.

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