Magnificent Riflebird

Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus) is one of the paradise birds that live in tropical rainforest of New Guinea. It can be found in lowland and lower montane forest in the north and southern regions of the island from West Papua to Papua New Guinea. Although it is common in the forest, it is often heard than seen. I personally often watch it in Susnguakti forest of Manokwari when I guide foreign tourists on a multiple day hiking and wildlife watching in Manokwari.

Magnificent Riflebird in Susnguakti forest of Manokwari
A Male Magnificent Riflebird was calling his female mating partner.

Early in the morning, we can hear the calls of the bird of paradise from a tree. We have to carefully search every branch and vine of the tree to find it. Fortunately, we could locate its dancing site and now we have a blind to see the bird.

His iridescent blue breast looks like a triangilar shield. The yellow line below the shield can only be seen if he stand strait and jump while performing his courtship dance. The way he dances is similar to the way a cheerleader dances during a basketball or football match. The male Magnificent riflebird is a solo dancer. He does not perform in a group like Lesser Birds of Paradise or Red Bird of Paradise. He chooses a horizontal or curvy branch or vine as his "stage". When his female mating partner lands on the branch after hearing his call, he will start to perform his courtship dance.

He often sits on his dancing site for quite long, so birdwatchers could see him using binoculars or spotting scope. If we know his "dancing stage", we can take better pictures of him from inside a blind.

Magnificent Riflebird in Klasow valley of Sorong regency

In the world, there were around 42 species of birds of paradise. However, the scientific findings in 2018 of differences in mating behaviour of Superb Bird of Paradise in Arfak mountains finally led scientists to split the species into another new one which was now called the Vogelkop Superb Bird of Paradise (Lophorina niedda). It becomes 43 species now.

If you are interested in birding in West Papua's rainforest, you need to male a long trip to Indonesia.

In general, visitor ls spend at least four to five days in higher elevation forest of Arfak mountains and then 4 days in lowland forest of Klasow valley and finally 4 days in Raja Ampat islands.

There is another interesting birding destination in Cendrawasih bay especially in the northern and southern areas of Wondama peninsula.

If you are interested in taking a birding tour to West Papua and want me (Charles Roring) to accompany and guide you, please, contact me by email to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.