Victorias riflebird

Ptiloris victoriae subfamily

Paradisaeinae taxonomy

Ptiloris victoriae Gould, 1850, Barnard Island, North Queensland, Australia.

other common names

English: Queen Victoria's rifle-bird; French: Paradisier de Victoria; German: Victoriaparadeisvogel; Spanish: Ave Fusil de la Reina Victoria.

physical characteristics

9.5 in (24 cm); female 0.17-0.21 lb (77-96 g), male 0.20-0.26 lb (91-119 g). Deep black upperparts, chin, cheek, and breast band. Crown and throat a bright metallic greenish blue. Short tail with metallic green central feathers. Lower breast to vent is a darker, iridescent oil-green. Females are red-brown with whitish throat patch and brow stripe.

distribution

The Atherton region of tropical northeast Queensland, Australia, including some off-shore islands; from Big Tableland, south of Cooktown, to Mount Elliot just south of Townsville. Sea level to 3,940 ft (1,200 m) altitude.

habitat

Lowland to hill rainforest, adjacent eucalyptus and melaleuca woodlands, and landward edges of mangroves.

behavior

Adult males are loudly and frequently vocal in advertising their display sites at the top of vertical broken-off tree stumps, upon

which they perform ritualized courtship postures/movements. Typical advertisement song of adults is an explosive loud sssssshh or yaaaas. Flight noise produced by adult males is a sharp and dry rattling rustle that probably functions as a social signal to conspecifics. Courtship occurs July through December.

feeding ecology and diet

Omnivorous, but arthropods and small vertebrates are taken at least as much as fruits. Nestling diet is mostly animals, including orthopterans, cockroaches, beetles, cicadas, insect larvae, wood lice, spiders, and centipedes. Differences in bill structure between the sexes may reduce competition for animal foods.

reproductive biology

Polygynous, with promiscuous solitary males and exclusively female nest attendance. Breeding occurs late August through early January. Nest is a substantial open cup cryptically placed among concealing foliage at 5-66 ft (1.5-20 m) above ground. Clutch is one to two pinkish eggs marked with elongate brush-stroke-like blotches. Incubation is 18-19 days; nestling period is 13-15 days.

conservation status

Not threatened. Widespread and common throughout remaining and protected habitat.

significance to humans

Once commonly killed and mounted for Victorian bird cabinets as interior decoration. ♦

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