King Bird of Paradise Click to enlarge image
King Bird of Paradise drawn by William T. Cooper. Image: William T. Cooper
© William T. Cooper

Fast Facts

Common name

King Bird of Paradise

Scientific name

Cicinnurus regius


Cicinnurus (Greek, curled lock of hair, alluding to specialised feathers on head); regius (Latin, king).


Sexually dimorphic. Adults 19 cm (31 cm with central tail feathers). Adult male has brilliant crimson head, throat and upperparts, narrow iridescent dark green breast shield and tips to pectoral plumes, remaining underparts white, blue legs and feet and central tail feathers elongated and wire-like with iridescent green spiral discs at end. Females variably brownish with dark brown barred underparts.


Fruits and arthropods.


Lowland rainforest, monsoon and gallery forest and forest edges, including tall secondary forest; 0-950 m, mainly below 300-400m.


Polygynous. Males display in isolation at exploded leks and in groups at traditional arboreal courts. Displays occur October-January. Male displays by sitting upright on branch and vibrating wings and then holding body parallel to perch, spreading pectoral feathers and raising tail over head while dancing; he swings tail and then body side to side before hanging upside down on branch with wings folded while swinging like pendulum.


Breeding at least March-October. Females build and attend nests alone. Incubation recorded as 17 days; nestling period 14 days. Known to hybridise with Magnificent Bird of Paradise.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened; locally fairly common.


New Guinea: Mainland and Aru, Misool, Salawati and Yapen Islands.