Parotia (Greek, curl of hair by the ear, alluding to plumes on head); lawesii (named for Reverend WG Lawes, British missionary and possible collector).
Sexually dimorphic. Male, 27 cm, female, 25 cm. Adult male entirely jet black except for white stripe from lower forehead across base of upper bill, intense iridescent emerald green to greenish-yellow breast shield and three plumes like wires with expanded ends above and behind each eye. Adult female with black head, mottled throat and facial stripe, drab brown upperparts and tail, and barred underparts.
Fruits, some arthropods and skinks.
Mid montane forests, disturbed forests, secondary growth and forest patches within village gardens; 500-2300 m, mainly 1200-1900m.
Polygynous. Males form exploded leks over dispersed terrestrial courts. Male clears court in anticipation of display, then stands upright with plumage sleeked, followed by bow when crest feathers are spread forward over bill. He flicks wings, stretches upwards and raises his flank feathers into ‘skirt’, which is maintained as he dances around court, moving head plumes; interspersed is static posture while raising and lowering his body; finally lunges across court with plumage sleeked and head forward and horizontal to ground.
Breeding season at least June-January. Females build and attend nests alone. Nests placed in tree canopy 5-12 m above ground. Incubation, nestling and development unknown. Known to hybridise with Blue Bird of Paradise.
Status and conservation
Not threatened; common, adapted to human presence.
New Guinea: central mountain ranges of east central third from Bismarck, Schrader, Hagen, and Giluwe Ranges and Tari Valley to southern slopes of Owen Stanley Range.