Magnificent Riflebirds

The Magnificent Riflebird, Ptiloris magnificus, is a medium-sized (up to 34cm long) passerine bird of the Paradisaeidae family.

This species used to be placed in its own genus, Craspedophora Gray, 1840, which is now a subgenus of Ptiloris.


The male is velvet-black bird of paradise with elongated black filamental flank plumes, an iridescent blue-green crown, a wide, triangle-shaped breast shield, and on central tail feathers. It has a black curved bill, yellow mouth, blackish feet and a dark brown iris.

The female is brownish with dark spots and buff bars below.

Distribution / Range

The Magnificent Riflebird is widely distributed throughout lowland rainforests of New Guinea and far Northeastern Australia. The diet consists mainly of fruits and arthropods.

A widespread and relatively common species throughout its range, the Magnificent Riflebird is evaluated as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Breeding / Nesting

Males are polygamous and perform solitary courtship displays on a ‘dancing perch’. During these displays, the male fully-extends his wings and raises his tail; he hops upward while swinging his head from side to side, showing off his metallic blue-green breast shield.

Multiple females will observe these displays, and, if satisfied with the performance, reward the male with copulations. Females subsequently build nests, incubate, brood, and feed young without male assistance.

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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