Family Birds-of-paradise (Paradisaeidae)

Least Concern

Superb Bird-of-paradise (Lophorina superba)


French: Paradisier superbe German: Kragenparadiesvogel Spanish: Ave del paraíso soberbia

Paradisea Superba

J. R. Forster

, 1781,

Arfak Mountains, New Guinea


Intergeneric hybridization recorded with Paradigalla carunculata, Parotia carolae, Parotia sefilata, Epimachus fastosus and Cicinnurus magnificus; also with congeneric L. magnifica. Subspecies groups based largely on plumage of females; further research required. Nominate race differs from others in its strikingly different voice (niedda unknown), while male lacks small black spots on green breast-plate and female is dark-headed (both characters shared by niedda), all suggesting that species limits may need to be changed; female minor, however, also dark-headed. Proposed race connectens (Dawong, in Herzog Mts) treated as synonym of latipennis. Proposed race sphinx, described on basis of one immature male (like minor but considerably larger, with more reddish-brown on upperparts, eyestripe less extensive, forehead and neck lacking white flecks), is of unknown origin; validity unproven. Form named “pseudoparotia” (based on single specimen from Hunstein Mts, in middle Sepik Mts) shown to be hybrid of present species and Parotia carolae. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. s. superba (J. R. Forster, 1781) – Arfak Superb Bird-of-paradise – Vogelkop (Tamrau Mts and Arfak Mts), in NW New Guinea.
  • L. s. niedda Mayr, 1930 – Mt Wondiwoi (in Wandammen Peninsula), in NW New Guinea.
  • L. s. feminina#R Ogilvie-Grant, 1915 – Weyland Superb Bird-of-paradise – C Cordillera from Weyland Mts E to C New Guinea (Hindenburg Mts and Victor Emanuel Mts).
  • L. s. latipennis Rothschild, 1907 – Herzog Superb Bird-of-paradise – E & NE New Guinea in Central Highlands and Eastern Highlands (E to Herzog Mts, Kuper Range and Ekuti Range), also Adelbert Mts and mountains of Huon Peninsula.
  • L. s. minor E. P. Ramsay, 1885 – Stanley Superb Bird-of-paradise – mountains of SE New Guinea (E probably from SE of Wau).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 26 cm, 60–105 g; female 25 cm, 54–85 g. Male nominate race has scale-like crown feathers iridescent metallic green-blue with purple to magenta sheens, rest... read more


    Advertisement of male a loud, metallic, nasal series of 4–7 (sometimes many) "shre... read more


    Middle to upper montane forests, disturbed forest, and forest patches among gardens and other... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fruits (mostly capsules) and variety of arthropods; proportions vary seasonally, from nearly all arthropods to almost entirely fruits.... read more


    Breeds in any month across range; nest-building recorded in Apr, egg-laying Jan, Mar, Jun and Nov, and female feeding fully developed... read more


    Presumably resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Locally common. Commonest bird-of-paradise within its altitudinal range (c. 1060–2135 m) in Eastern Highlands. Common... read more

    Recommended citation

    Frith, C. & Frith, D. (2020). Superb Bird-of-paradise (Lophorina superba). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).