Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Ribbon-Tailed Astrapia

Did you ever see the Planet Earth series? If you didn't, you really should. And if you don't have the patience to sit through the whole series, the abbreviated children's version, Earth, is nice, too.

When I used to teach, the Jungles episode of Planet Earth was my favorite to show. The biodiversity of the rainforest was a perfect example to complement almost any subject we covered in biology.

A big feature in the Jungles episode, which the students and I loved, was the segment on the birds of paradise. For the first time in their lives, students were seeing these remarkable creatures, and how they had adapted to avoiding competition and attracting mates. The trend seemed to be, the crazier the bird looked, the more elaborate its dance, the more likely it would be that a female would choose a male to mate with.

This bird of paradise is considered medium-sized. Its body length can grow up to 32 cm, not including its impressive ribbon-like tail, which can extend up to 3 meters. (That's over 3 feet, Americans!)

The Ribbon-Tailed Astrapia is not endangered, but it is threatened. Habitat loss and hunting for the male's beautiful feathers have resulted in population decline.

Photo courtesy of Tim Lamon


  1. A most unusual and beautiful bird. One to give a peacock a run for its money! Now I must check out your post H is for Hawaiian Crow!

  2. Very beautiful, but can't help thinking that tail must get in the way a lot. A bit like people who have really long nails.