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Pteridophora alberti skulls have small depressions behind the occipital cavity to allow for the musculature necessary to control the occipital plumes.

The Wola people of New Guinea imitate the courtship displays of P. alberti in their ritualistic dances; the Wola also use the occipital plumes in traditional headresses.

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Behavior

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King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise communicate using mostly vocalizations, body posturing and movements. The male’s song has been described as a radio-static hiss, which increases in tempo and lessens in volume simultaneously. Songs last 4 to 5 seconds, and are repeated at one-minute intervals. Immature males give calls described as noisy descending churrs. Males courting females perform elaborate movements with their occipital plumes during their songs, as well as changing posture to better attract the female’s attention. Females convey interest or disinterest during displays using body posture as well.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Conservation Status

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King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise are not considered a threatened species. Although they are found only in a small range, they are common in that range and most areas it inhabits are not in danger of being severely altered at this time.

US Migratory Bird Act: no special status

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix ii

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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Residents who observe birds-of-paradise may be less likely to clear an area for agriculture, which might impact income and production.

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise have been hunted in the past for the striking occipital plumes sported by males, which were used in ladies’ hats in the late 1800’s into the 1930’s, when hunting of all birds-of-paradise was banned by both the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. There is currently little ecotourism in this area, but increased awareness of the existence of these birds may lead to more visits by humans in the future.

Positive Impacts: body parts are source of valuable material

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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The role of King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise in their montane rainforest habitats is not known, but it is likely that they aid in seed dispersal of the fruits they eat.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Trophic Strategy

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King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise are mainly frugivores. Approximately 80% of their diet consists of fruit; they tend to favor green fruits, especially false figs above most other fruits. They are also known to eat insects. Adult males forage mainly in the upper canopy, but females and males with female-plumage have been spotted in all levels of forest growth.

Animal Foods: insects

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Distribution

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Pteridophora alberti, or King-of-Saxony bird-of-paradise, is native to the rain forest regions of New Guinea. There are two main ranges, which run in a generally south-east line from the Weyland and Snow Mountains eastward to the Bismarck and Kratke Ranges, following the main tectonic division of the island. The larger of the two ranges of P. alberti is located more to the north, and covers much of the Weyland Mountains. The smaller, more circular range sits to the south-east.

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Habitat

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King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise are found exclusively in rain forests in the mountains of New Guinea from 1,500 to 2,750 m above sea level. These birds don’t require pristine forest; P. alberti can survive in lightly disturbed sections of rain forest and forest edges as well.

Range elevation: 1500 to 2850 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest ; mountains

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Life Expectancy

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Lifespan for King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise is unknown, but other birds of paradise are known to live up to 30 years in captivity.

Average lifespan
Status: captivity:
30 years.

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Morphology

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Pteridophora alberti is a sexually dimorphic species. Mature male King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise are approximately 22 cm long and weigh 80 to 95 g. The head, chest and top of the body are black, with scale-like iridescent feathers on the chest, the underbody is buff-yellow. The wings have large ochre patches formed from the bases and leading edges of the primary feathers. The legs are grey-brown, the bill is black with a bright aqua-green gape. A feather shaft twice as long as the bird’s body (approximately 50 cm) sporting 40 to 50 flag-like structures are rooted behind each eye. These flags are bright blue on top, and red-brown underneath.

Female P. alberti have off-white underbodies patterned with darker chevrons, while the tops of their bodies are grey-brown in color. There are also immature males that sport female-style plumage. Females weigh 68 to 88 g.

King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise may be made up of 3 subspecies: Pteridophora a. alberti, P. a. burgersi, and P. a. hallstromi. The differences between these subspecies are mostly matters of subtle changes in coloration. However, these subspecies descriptions are not universally accepted.

Range mass: 68 to 95 g.

Average length: 22 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful; ornamentation

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Associations

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King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise have no known predators. However, humans have been known to hunt them for their exquisite plumage. Eggs and nestlings may be preyed on by arboreal snakes or other birds.

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Reproduction

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King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise are polygynous. The mating system is considered an "exploded lek" because males perform mating displays in their own spot, but there are generally many males in a large area where all are attempting to court females.

The courtship display of male King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise has two general parts. First, near dawn or in late afternoon, the male attracts a female by singing a hissing rattle while sitting on a bare branch in the canopy. He accompanies his song with synchronous or independent movements of his occipital plumes; the mantle cape and breast shield are also often held erect. The male usually turns repeatedly on his perch. When a female arrives, he flies down to vines in the understory, usually 2 or more meters from the forest floor. There, he perches below the female on a vine, bounces, and gives a hissing call, which is often accompanied by manipulations of the occipital plumes, erection of the mantle cape and breast shield, and, if the female appears disinterested, wing shivers. When approaching the female for copulation, the male wags his head from side to side while hopping up the vine. After copulation, the female leaves, and the male returns to his perch to attract another female.

Mating System: polygynous

Courtship displays and nesting of Pteridophora alberti take place between September and April. Only one egg is laid per clutch; it is not known if more than one clutch is attempted per season. Incubation of this single egg appears to last longer than 22 days. Young P. alberti hatch and remain altricial for a period of time before fledging, but nestling and fledging periods are unknown. However, most species in the birds of paradise family fledge within 20 to 30 days of hatching. Age of sexual maturity is also unknown for this species, but sexual maturity usually takes 1 to 2 years for most birds of paradise.

Breeding interval: King-of-Saxony birds-of-paradise breed once yearly, numbers of attempts at clutches during the breeding season are unknown.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from April through November.

Average eggs per season: 1.

Average time to hatching: 22 days.

Range fledging age: 20 to 30 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 to 2 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 to 2 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Only female P. alberti care for chicks. Other than the actual copulation event, males have no parental investment in the raising of young. Females build their own nests, and care for chicks by themselves, including providing food.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

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Grzesiak, K. 2008. "Pteridophora alberti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pteridophora_alberti.html
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Katherine Grzesiak, Northern Michigan University
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Alec R. Lindsay, Northern Michigan University
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King of Saxony bird-of-paradise

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The King of Saxony bird-of-paradise (Pteridophora alberti) is a bird in the bird-of-paradise family (Paradisaeidae). It is the only member of the genus Pteridophora. It is endemic to montane forest in New Guinea.

Nomenclature

Adolf Bernard Meyer of the Dresden Museum described this species in the December 1894 bulletin of the British Ornithologist's Club.[2] Both the common name "King of Saxony" and the scientific specific name "alberti" were given to honour to the then king of Saxony, Albert of Saxony, whose wife gave her name to the Queen Carola's parotia.

Description

The adult King of Saxony bird-of-paradise is approximately 22 cm long. The male is black and yellow with a dark brown iris, brownish-grey legs, a black bill with a bright aqua-green gape, and two remarkably long (up to 50 cm) scalloped, enamel-blue brow-plumes that can be independently erected at the bird's will.[3] The unadorned female is greyish brown with barred underparts.

The male's ornamental head plumes are so bizarre that, when the first specimen was brought to Europe, it was thought to be a fake.

Distribution

The King of Saxony bird-of-paradise inhabits the montane forests of New Guinea, and is distributed from the Weyland Mountains in Western New Guinea to the Kratke Range and Mount Giluwe in Papua New Guinea between 1,300–2,850 meters above mean sea level, but usually between 1,800–2,500 meters above sea level.

Moulted head-plumes in good condition are sought by male Archbold's bowerbirds for use as decorations, and in turn collected from the courtship bowers by humans. Males are also hunted for their highly prized long plumes used by natives for ceremonial decoration, but despite this the species remains fairly common in parts of its range. It is considered to be of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Behaviour

Adult males are territorial. The male guards its territory from perches placed in the tops of tall trees, and from these perches sings to compete with males in neighbouring territories. While singing, the male moves his occipital plumes about. In 1996 David Attenborough filmed the first ever footage of the mating ritual of the bird.

The diet consists mainly of fruits, berries and arthropods.

Courtship

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Illustration of male

The King of Saxony Bird of Paradise's mating courtship behavior consists of a combination of vocalizations and physical maneuvers, enhanced by its magnificent and unique plumage. The King of Saxony's occipital feathers or “head wires” are one of a kind as they no longer possess their regular feather structure, but instead are eye-catching ornaments that possess no functionality.[4] These feathers can be twice as long as the body of the male King of Saxony, and have evolved as the result of female selection, in which females select males based upon indirect genetic benefits which increase offspring fitness.[5] This process occurs due to male's lack of participation in the process of raising offspring, forcing females to assess male fitness through courtship rituals, details of which are below.[5]

Song and Dance

The male King of Saxony will perch on the forest canopy in exploded leks and sing to attract females.[6] These exploded leks place males much further apart than a traditional lek but still in a single relative location, allowing females to move from male to male to choose the right mate with relative ease.[7] The songs sung by the males are reminiscent of "radio-static hisses,"can last from four to five seconds, and have been selected for over time based upon their ability to attract females.[8] Songs are repeated at one minute intervals until a female arrives.[8] Male King of Saxony dance maneuvers initiate once a female is in his vicinity and usually use the movement of their unique occipital plumes, flaring them up and down as a tantalizing eye-catcher to pique female interest.[4] These enormous feathers are the key component in the visual presentation of males.[4] Once females are enticed, males will bounce their mantle cape and breast shield feathers up and down.[9] If the female likes what she sees, she will invite the males to the understory of the forest where the courtship continues.[9] Here, the male perches on a vine, connected to, but below the female and proceeds to rhythmically bounce up and down, which in turn, causes her vine to vibrate.[9] If she continues to be interested in the male, he will hop up next to her, erecting his mantle cape and breast shield and wagging his head from side to side to get his head wires to swirl about the female.[9] These behaviors are most common between July and February, but can occur at other times of the year as well.[6]

References

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Pteridophora alberti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22706229A94057390. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22706229A94057390.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ Papua New Guinea Birds of Paradise (1990). William S. Peckover
  3. ^ "Pteridophora alberti". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved on 2015-10-01.
  4. ^ a b c "Birds-of-Paradise Project: King-of-Saxony". Birds-of-Paradise Project. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  5. ^ a b Nordell, Shawn; Valone, Thomas (2017). Animal Behavior: Concepts, Methods, and Applications. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ a b "King of Saxony Bird of Paradise - Australian Museum". australianmuseum.net.au. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  7. ^ "Exploded lek | bird courtship". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  8. ^ a b "King of Saxony Bird of Paradise - Pteridophora alberti - Details - Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  9. ^ a b c d Frith, Clifford; Frith, Dawn (1997). "Courtship and Mating of the King of Saxony Bird of Paradise Pteridophora alberti in New Guinea with Comment on their Taxonomic Significance". Emu. 97: 185–193. doi:10.1071/MU97025 (inactive 28 February 2022).{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of February 2022 (link)
  • Galley Press. The World Atlas of Birds.

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King of Saxony bird-of-paradise: Brief Summary

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The King of Saxony bird-of-paradise (Pteridophora alberti) is a bird in the bird-of-paradise family (Paradisaeidae). It is the only member of the genus Pteridophora. It is endemic to montane forest in New Guinea.

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