The first footage of the Wilson's bird-of-paradise ever to be filmed was recorded in 1996 by David Attenborough for the BBC documentary Attenborough in Paradise. He did so by dropping leaves on the forest floor, which irritated the bird into clearing them away.
The controversial scientific name respublica of this species was given by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon's nephew and a republican idealist. The habit of zoologists at that time to dedicate newly discovered species to some king, queen or aristocrat deeply irritated him. In order to assert his convictions, he chose to name respublica this species to honor the republic and not the royalty.
Charles Lucien Bonaparte described the bird from a badly damaged trade specimen purchased by British ornithologist Edward Wilson. In doing so, he beat John Cassin, who wanted to name the bird in honour of Wilson, by several months. Thirteen years later, in 1863, the German zoologist Heinrich Agathon Bernstein discovered the home grounds of the Wilson's bird-of-paradise in Waigeo Island.
Due to ongoing habitat loss, limited range and exploitation, the Wilson's bird-of-paradise is evaluated as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Its preferred habitat is the hill forest at 300 m of altitude, more rarely the lowland rainforest and the middle mountain forest.
Wilson's bird-of-paradise is rather small. Males can reach a length of 16 centimetres (6.3 in) (21 cm including central rectrices) and a weight of 53–67 g., while females can reach a length of 16 cm,but a weight of 52–60 g. The male is a red and black bird-of-paradise, with a yellow mantle on its neck, light green mouth, rich blue feet and two curved violet tail feathers. The head is naked blue, with a black double cross pattern on it. The female is a brownish bird with bare blue crown.
In the field, the blue bare skin on the crown of the bird's head is so vivid that it is clearly visible by night; the deep scarlet back and velvet green breast are lush, the curlicue tail gleaming bright silver.
Their diet consists of fruits, insects, arthropods and other small invertebrates.
Males of these birds clear an area of rainforest to create a 'display court'. Then they perform an elaborate mating dance to impress a potential mate. The male usually exhibits the attractive breast shield and accompanies the mating dance with song and calls.
Male Wilson’s Birds of Paradise are the most colorful of all the species within the family, possessing a veritable rainbow of color. This remarkable example of hue and iridescence possesses all of the primary colors (and more) in different ways. The baby blue hue of its head is skin, not feathers, and is the result of structural color absent in any other member of birds of paradise. Yellow on the nape of its neck, followed by the crimson on its back are consistent, pigmented colors, present year-round. Its quirky, “handlebar-mustache-shaped” tail feathers are brilliantly iridescent, reflecting light to produce intense color to the eye of the beholder.
The sexual dimorphism of the species leaves the female very drab in comparison. Sexual dimorphism, or the difference in physical appearance between the sexes, is the result of female selection, in which females select males based upon indirect genetic benefits which increase offspring fitness. Because this species is polygynous, where one male mates with multiple females, the female is left on her own to raise young, forcing her to assess these indirect genetic benefits through courtship rituals, details of which are in the following section.
While these birds are difficult to locate in the wild and have not been studied in-depth, footage of the few mating rituals that have been witnessed for this species tells all. This species territorially defends a “court” in which it performs its vocalizations and physical maneuvers. Males will continually work to keep this area free of debris, making sure that nothing on the ground will distract from their displays. Males will perch on a vertical branch in the middle of their court, flexing their brilliant green fluorescent collar and calling out to females to attract them to their site. Females who are interested will perch above the male on the branch and watch as he weaves back and forth, calling to her and flexing the fluorescent collar. As was recently discovered when researchers filmed the dance from the female’s perspective, as the male displays, he is basically a brilliant green disc, and the inside of his mouth is fluorescent, making him an astonishing beacon of brilliant color. This phenomenal display of color demonstrates the power of female sexual selection over male appearance and behavior in the animal kingdom.
Thomas Caverhill Jerdon publishes the first volume of The Birds of India.
Francois Victor Massena, 2nd Duke of Rivoli, Alberto della Marmora and Alfred Moquin-Tandon die.
American ornithologist Greene Smith founds the Greene Smith Museum
Birds described in 1863 include black-throated munia, Amur falcon, black-tipped monarch, nuthatch vanga, red-tailed wheatear,
Heinrich Agathon Bernstein discovers the Waigeo home of Wilson's bird-of-paradise.
Alfred Russel Wallace publishes The Naturalist on the River Amazons
Gustav Radde Reisen im Süden von Ost-Sibirien in den Jahren 1855-59 (Travels in the south of eastern Siberia during the years 1855-59) published 1862–1863Ongoing events
John Gould The birds of Australia; Supplement 1851-69. 1 vol. 81 plates; Artists: J. Gould and H. C. Richter; Lithographer: H. C. Richter
John Gould The birds of Asia; 1850-83 7 vols. 530 plates, Artists: J. Gould, H. C. Richter, W. Hart and J. Wolf; Lithographers:H. C. Richter and W. HartAstrapia
The astrapias are a genus, Astrapia, of birds-of-paradise. The genus contains five species.
They are endemic to New Guinea. The males have highly iridescent plumage and remarkably long tails. Females are duller and have shorter tails.
Barnes's astrapia is a hybrid produced by the interbreeding of Princess Stephanie's astrapia and the ribbon-tailed astrapia.Astrapian sicklebill
The astrapian sicklebill, also known as the green-breasted riflebird, is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that believed to be an intergeneric hybrid between an Arfak astrapia and black sicklebill. This explanation was proposed by Erwin Stresemann who used the same explanation for the Elliot's bird-of-paradise. The two forms are substantially different and the latter's validity is still under question.Bensbach's bird-of-paradise
Bensbach's bird-of-paradise, also known as Bensbach's riflebird , is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that is often now considered an intergeneric hybrid between a magnificent riflebird and lesser bird-of-paradise. However, some authors, such as Errol Fuller, believe that it was a distinct and possibly extinct species.Bird-of-paradise
The birds-of-paradise are members of the family Paradisaeidae of the order Passeriformes. The majority of species are found in eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and eastern Australia. The family has 42 species in 15 genera. The members of this family are perhaps best known for the plumage of the males of the sexually dimorphic species (the majority), in particular the highly elongated and elaborate feathers extending from the beak, wings, tail or head. For the most part they are confined to dense rainforest habitat. The diet of all species is dominated by fruit and to a lesser extent arthropods. The birds-of-paradise have a variety of breeding systems, ranging from monogamy to lek-type polygamy.
A number of species are threatened by hunting and habitat loss.Diphyllodes
Diphyllodes is a genus of birds-of-paradise. Established by René-Primevère Lesson in 1834, it contains two species: the magnificent bird-of-paradise and Wilson's bird-of-paradise. Both species are endemic to New Guinea, where they are found in forested uplands. The genus is sometimes subsumed into the genus Cicinnurus.Drepanornis
Drepanornis is a genus of bird-of-paradise found in forests of New Guinea. They have long decurved sickle-like bills and an overall brown plumage.The genus is sometimes considered a subgenus of Epimachus, but the two members of Drepanornis have a far shorter tail and their sexual dimorphism is less extreme.Duivenbode's bird-of-paradise
Duivenbode's bird-of-paradise is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that is a hybrid between the emperor bird-of-paradise and lesser bird-of-paradise. The common name commemorates Maarten Dirk van Renesse van Duivenbode (1804–1878), Dutch trader of naturalia on Ternate.Duivenbode's riflebird
Duivenbode's riflebird is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that is a presumed intergeneric hybrid between a magnificent riflebird and lesser lophorina. The common name commemorates Maarten Dirk van Renesse van Duivenbode (1804-1878), Dutch trader of naturalia on Ternate.Epimachus
Epimachus is a genus of bird-of-paradise from highland forests in New Guinea. They have long decurved sickle-like bills and long tails. Males of both species have extensive iridescent blackish to their plumage, while females are overall brown with barred underparts.
The two members of the genus Drepanornis are sometimes included in Epimachus, but their tail is far shorter and their sexual dimorphism is less extreme.Gilliard's bird-of-paradise
Gilliard's bird-of-paradise is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that is a hybrid between a raggiana bird-of-paradise and lesser bird-of-paradise. It is known from adult male specimens taken in the upper Baiyer Valley in Papua New Guinea. It was named after American ornithologist Ernest Thomas Gilliard by Clifford Frith and Bruce Beehler.Mantou's riflebird
Mantou's riflebird, also known as Bruijn's riflebird, is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that is presumed to be an intergeneric hybrid between a twelve-wired bird-of-paradise and magnificent riflebird.Manucode
Manucodes are birds-of-paradise in the genus Manucodia, that are medium-sized with black-glossed purple and green plumages.
The members of this genus are distributed in the lowland forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. They are monogamous and sexually monomorphic, in contrast to most birds-of-paradise.
The name Manucodia is derived from Javanese "manuk dewata"; "manuk" means bird and "dewata" means gods.Red bird-of-paradise
The red bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea rubra, also cendrawasih merah), is a bird-of-paradise in the genus Paradisaea, family Paradisaeidae.Ruys's bird-of-paradise
Ruys's bird-of-paradise is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that is presumed to be an intergeneric hybrid between a magnificent bird-of-paradise and lesser bird-of-paradise.Stresemann's bird-of-paradise
Stresemann's bird-of-paradise is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that is an intergeneric hybrid between a Queen Carola's parotia and greater lophorina.Wilhelmina's bird-of-paradise
Wilhelmina's bird-of-paradise, also known as Wilhelmina's riflebird, is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that is presumed to be an intergeneric hybrid between a greater lophorina and magnificent bird-of-paradise.Wonderful bird-of-paradise
The wonderful bird-of-paradise, also known as Reichenow's riflebird, is a bird in the family Paradisaeidae that is an intergeneric hybrid between a twelve-wired bird-of-paradise and lesser bird-of-paradise.