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

Fast Facts

Common name

Superb Bird of Paradise

Scientific name

Lophorina superba


Lophorina (Greek, crested nose, referring to feathers at base of upper bill); superba (Latin, superb).


Sexually dimorphic. Adult male averages 26 cm long, female, 25 cm. Adult male jet black with iridescent crown and blue breast shield; cape of elongated nape feathers fans out symmetrically when raised. Female has blackish-brown head with pale mottled stripe running across forehead, above eyes and around nape; underparts are light brown with heavy darker barring.


Fruit and arthropods.


Mid to upper montane forests, disturbed forests and patches in gardens and other cleared areas; 1000-2300 m, mainly 1650-1900m.


Polygynous. Solitary males dispersed across forest during peak season (August-January). Territorial around traditional perches. Courtship involves crouching, repeated displaying of breast shield and exaggerated downward movement to show crown to female. During high intensity display, male also fans nape cape, forming semicircle over head and around breast shield, while hopping around female.


Breeding recorded all months of the year. Females build and attend to the nest alone. Incubation about 18-19 days; nestling period 18 days. Hybridisation known with Long-tailed Paradigalla, Western and Carola’s Parotias, Black Sicklebill and Magnificent Riflebird.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened; locally common.


New Guinea: Central mountains, Vogelkop and Huon Peninsulas, Adelbert and Hunstein Mountains, and Mount Bosavi

Habitat of the Superb Bird of Paradise from the 'Rituals of Seduction: Birds of Paradise' exhibition. Image: Birds of Paradise: Nature, Art & History by C.B. Frith & D.W. Frith
© Birds of Paradise: Nature, Art & History by C.B. Frith & D.W. Frith