Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise lives up to its name

Watch a video of this new subspecies of the bird famous for its courtship dance and spectacular feathers
vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise A painting of the superb bird-of-paradise. This beautiful bird has an equally striking cousin that you're going to love! (Richard Bowdler Sharpe/Wikimedia Commons)


Back in 2006, the BBC released its famous Planet Earth series. Not only did these breathtaking films raise the bar for nature documentaries everywhere—and spawn a sequel in 2016, Planet Earth II—it also introduced us to dozens of animals from around the world.

Some of the most striking ones appeared in episode 8 "Jungles": the birds-of-paradise of Indonesia. In particular, Planet Earth focused on the incredible courtship displays—where the males try to attract a female mate—of different species. If you've never seen them (or even if you have), watch them here to get caught up.

Follow the bouncing bird

Those are all pretty awesome, right? With its eager bounce, electric blue breast, and impossibly black feathers, the superb bird-of-paradise became a kind of star. Just look at how it transforms its appearance from a seemingly ordinary black bird, into a hopping neon happy face. What's not to love about that?

Embed from Getty Images

The iridescent breast feathers of the superb bird-of-paradise gleam depending on how the light hits them. Elsewhere on its body, its feathers are so black that they absorb an stunning 99.95% of light. (Getty Embed)

Nothing, that's what! Superb birds-of-paradise are spread throughout Indonesia. For years, researchers knew that you could find some in a region called Vogelkop (German for "bird's head"). But now, thanks to careful attention to detail, scientists are convinced that the birds found in Vogelkop are an entirely new species of superb bird-of-paradise. What is their evidence?

Observe...

Move over, cousin!

Different song. Different dance. A new take on the courtship 'face' presented to their distinct female companions.

That's a new bird species alright! Welcome to the world, Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise. Or rather, sorry it took use so long to notice you were so different!


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