Ribbontailed astrapia

Astrapia mayeri subfamily

Paradisaeinae taxonomy

Astrapia mayeri Stonor, 1939, Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea.

other common names

English: Ribbon-tailed bird of paradise, ribbon tail; French: Paradisier a rubans; German: Schmalschwanz-Paradeiselster; Spanish: Ave del Paraíso Cola de Moños.

physical characteristics

12.6-13.8 in (32-35 cm), but 20.9-49.2 in (53-125 cm) with adult central rectrices; female 0.23-0.35 lb (102-157 g), male 0.30-0.36 lb (134-164 g). Most easily recognized by the male's long, black-tipped white tail feathers, which are at least three times the length of the bird. Head, throat, and tuft "pompom" over the base of the bill is black with intense metallic yellowish green iridescence. Olive-brown upperparts and black breast with coppery-red border. Deep green and copper abdomen to vent. Females duller, with brownish plumage and shorter tail.


Only an area of the central cordillera of western Papua New Guinea, from Mounts Hagen and Giluwe to Doma Peaks and the southern Karius Range, at altitudes of 5,900-11,320 ft (1,800-3,450 m).


Upper montane and subalpine moss forests, forest edges and patches, including disturbed vegetation.


Not yet clear if adult males, which do have traditional display locations and perches, are solitary displaying or do so in twos or larger numbers. Courtship involves males repeatedly hopping between tree perches; displays recorded during June through September. Extensive flight is by shallow undulations consisting of four to six audible, wing beats followed by a brief downward glide with closed wings; horizontally trailing central rectrices of adult males wave and ripple in the air.

feeding ecology and diet

Mostly lone individuals, but sometimes two to five birds, forage acrobatically on fruits and arthropods at all levels of the forest structure. Fruit possibly represents more than 50% of the diet. Arthropods and small vertebrate animals are obtained by probing/tearing into foliage, wood, and epiphytic vegetation.

reproductive biology

Polygynous with promiscuous (probably lekking) males and exclusively female nest attendance. Breeding known during at least May through March. Often nests in isolated saplings, with no immediately adjacent tree branches or foliage, where the forest canopy is typically lacking directly above. On average, nest is 10-59 ft (3-18 m) above ground. Nest is a deep, substantial, open cup. The clutch is a single egg. In captivity, incubation lasts 21 days and the nestling period is 24 days.

conservation status

Common to abundant in optimal habitat but geographically highly restricted and habitat is limited. Listed as Near Threatened.

significance to humans

Tail plumes of adult males are highly prized for personal adornment by highland men who trade dried skins. ♦

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