Diphyllodes magnificusmagnificent bird-of-paradise

Geographic Range

Diphyllodes magnificus occurs throughout the mountains of the islands of New Guinea. (Heads, 2001; Heads, 2002)


Diphyllodes magnificus is a tropical species found in the forested mountains of New Guinea. Magnificent birds-of-paradise are found in the upper canopy of the rainforest, almost exclusively in the mountains. They can also be seen in abandoned gardens in villages and small cities. Magnificent birds-of-paradise seems to be fairly tolerant of disturbed habitat and human settlement. (Heads, 2001; Heads, 2002)

  • Range elevation
    1800 to 5000 m
    5905.51 to 16404.20 ft

Physical Description

Male magnificent birds-of-paradise are spectacular birds with dark breasts that ranges from green to brown, and bright orange wings. Neck feathers are striped yellow. The most distinguishing characteristic is the two long, wire-like tail feathers that the male uses in the courtship display. Males cannot display to find a mate until these feathers grow in, which happens between three and six years after hatching. Females are drab, brown birds and can be difficult to tell from other female birds of paradise. Females do have a light blue eye stripe, which males also have. Males range from 16 to 26 cm in length and weigh 190 grams on average. Females are smaller, averaging 20 cm in length and 128 grams. ("San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • Range mass
    128 to 190 g
    4.51 to 6.70 oz
  • Range length
    16 to 26 cm
    6.30 to 10.24 in


Magnificent birds-of-paradise are known for their striking sexual dimorphism. Male magnificent birds-of-paradise are elaborately colored with long, ornamental tail feathers. Females are relatively drab, having brown feathers and normal looking tail feathers. The males lek during the breeding season. Each male picks a display area and “cleans” it by removing twigs and leaves. The males then perform an elaborate display that showcase their spectacular feathers. This performance involves fluffing up their feathers and dancing around the female while calling. When mating occurs it is brief and afterwards both male and female fly off: the male to find and display to other females and the female to pursue other males or to make a nest and raise the young. Magnificent birds-of-paradise are a polygamous and promiscuous species. Both males and females may mate with more than one partner and the males do not contribute to the raising of young. (Beehler and Foster, 1988; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008)

Magnificent birds-of-paradise breed between the months of July and December (late spring to early summer). Offspring are reared by the mother. One to two eggs are laid at a time in canopy nests. The young birds are fledged around 36 days after hatching, but some, often males, will stick around for another month. Females reach sexual maturity at about one year, and males between three and six years because they must grow out their long tail feathers before they can mate. (Beehler and Foster, 1988; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008)

  • Breeding interval
    Magnificent birds-of-paradise breed once a year.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs between the months of July and December.
  • Range eggs per season
    1 to 3
  • Range time to hatching
    14 to 26 days
  • Average time to hatching
    21 days
  • Range fledging age
    30 to 39 days
  • Average fledging age
    36 days
  • Average time to independence
    7-10 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    3 to 6 years

Males do not contribute to raising or protecting the young. After mating occurs, females build a nest and raise the one to three young on their own. Young fledge after about 30 days, but often stay with the mother for some time. ("San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008)

  • 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
  • post-independence association with parents


Lifespan of magnificent birds-of-paradise is not well known. However birds-of-paradise species (Paradisaeidae) are generally long lived birds, and living to 30 years in captivity is not unusual. ("San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008)


Magnificent birds-of-paradise are diurnal, social, and non-territorial species. While females and males do not often interact outside of mating, individual birds forage with same-sex conspecifics. They are also seen in mix species flocks. Very few specifics about their behavior are known. (McNab, 2005; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008)

Home Range

Not much is known about range size in magnificent birds-of-paradise, but they do not defend territories and they do not migrate.

Communication and Perception

Magnificent birds-of-paradise use a large number of calls for communication. Birds-of-paradise (Paradisaeidae) are an incredibly vocal group, known for elaborate courtship songs and a wide variety of calls for more everyday communication. The brightness of feathers in the male communicates readiness to breed and is perhaps a fitness indicator, though this has yet to be verified. (Beehler and Foster, 1988; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008; Beehler and Foster, 1988; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008; Beehler and Foster, 1988; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008)

Food Habits

Magnificent birds-of-paradise feed primarily on fruit (about 80-90% of the diet) and a small amount of insects, mostly beetles and crickets (about 10-20% of the diet). They are often seen in mixed foraging flocks, particularly out of the breeding season. These flocks contain other birds-of-paradise (Paradisaeidae), sunbirds (Nectariniidae), and other frugivore canopy species. (McNab, 2005)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit
  • flowers


Not including humans, magnificent birds-of-paradise have almost no predators. Large mammal predators do not exist in New Guinea. Humans have traditionally used their feathers for clothing, and in the early part of the 20th century many dead birds and feathers were exported to make fashionable hats. This has since been made illegal, although the native people are allowed to kill a small number for traditional practices. (Heads, 2001)

Ecosystem Roles

Not much is known about specific ecosystem roles, however it is suspected that magnificent birds-of-paradise are influential in seed dispersal. (Heads, 2001; Heads, 2002)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Diphyllodes magnificus is not of any economic importance, although some of the native peoples of New Guinea use their feathers for traditional clothing and head-dresses. (Heads, 2001; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise", 2008)

  • Positive Impacts
  • body parts are source of valuable material
  • research and education

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of magnificent birds-of-paradise on humans. (Heads, 2001; Marsden, et al., 2006)

Conservation Status

Diphyllodes magnificus is currently not in any conservation danger. They are extremely common in the forests and villages of New Guinea. They can inhabit areas of human settlement and quickly move into to colonize abandoned farms and gardens. However, continued human encroachment into forests may ultimately impact populations of magnificent birds-of-paradise. (Marsden, et al., 2006)


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Lenore Yaeger (author), Northern Michigan University, Alec R. Lindsay (editor, instructor), Northern Michigan University.



uses sound to communicate


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


Zoological Society of San Diego. 2008. "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Birds of Paradise" (On-line). Accessed April 14, 2008 at http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-bird_of_paradise.html.

Beehler, B., M. Foster. 1988. Hotshots, Hotspots, and Female Preferences in the Orgnization of Lek Mating Systems. The American Naturalist, 131/2: 203-219.

Heads, M. 2001. Birds of Paradise, biogeography and ecology in New Guinea: a review. Journal of Biogeography, 28: 893-925.

Heads, M. 2002. Birds of paradise, vicariance biogeography and terrane tectonics in New Guinea. Journal of Biogeography, 29: 261-283.

Marsden, S., C. Symes, A. Mack. 2006. The response of New Guinea avifauna to conservation of forest to small-scale agriculture. Ibis, 148: 629-640.

McNab, B. 2005. Food habits and the evolution of energetics in birds of paradise (Paradiseaidea). Journal of Comparative Physiology, 175: 117-132.