King Bird of Paradise

King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius)
King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius)

burung Cendrawasih Raja/ Cendrawasih Belah Rotan
King Bird of Paradise in Susnguakti forest of Manokwari.

King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius) is one of the forty two species of Birds of Paradise that are known to science. The bird lives in tropical rainforest of mainland New Guinea especially in lowland and lower montane forests. This paradise bird is very small compared to other mainland species such as the Magnificent Bird of Paradise, Glossy-mantled Manucode, or Lesser Birds of Paradise. The size of the male bird is 16 cm, relatively the same as the size of Wilson's Bird of Paradise. King Bird of Paradise lives in tangled rattan vines that are hanging in a tall tree. In West Papua, local people call it: Burung Belah Rotan. Burung means bird, belah means split and rotan means rattan - a kind of climbing palm that has been used as raw material for making furniture.

When I organize birdwatching trip in West Papua, I usually include King Bird of Paradise in my target list. There are several places which tourists can go to watch it. Some of them include Susnguakti forest of Manokwari, and Tambrauw mountains. From previous trips, I know that this paradise shows up later. So, when I guide tourists in the jungle, I will bring them to watch other birds first, such as the Common Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera galatea) or the Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor). We can hear their calls earlier at approximately 06.00. For the King Bird of Paradise, we usually go to the display tree of the bird at 08.00 and watch the bird until 11.00.

Because the bird is very small, I usually ask local villagers whose eyes are very "sharp" to spot the bird. A good bird spotter will increase the chance of seeing the bird. When the bird spotter has found the bird, I will use binoculars to check where he sits and then aim my spotting scope to the bird. He calls his female counterpart in the mornings and in the afternoons. When she comes and land on the nearby vine, he will jump up and down from lower vine to higher vine. He will also perform his courtship dance by standing close to his female bird and expand his feather. After that he will shake his body and wings in unique movements to attract the female King Bird of Paradise for mating.