Thursday, July 18, 2019

Watching The Courtship Dance of Red Bird of Paradise

Birding in Raja Ampat with Charles Roring
Male Red Bird of Paradise
Every time I organize birding trip to Raja Ampat islands, I will always include Red Bird of Paradise as one of the most important targets which tour participants need to watch. The lek of Red BOP is located deep in the tropical rainforest of Waigeo island. The birds gather on certain tree to dance and mate.
Last week, I guided 2 American birdwatchers on a few days hiking and birding trip in Waigeo island. We went hiking in southern region of Waigeo island on the second day of our stay in Raja Ampat. We started at 05.00. It was still dark. We had to use flashlight. Slowly we walked up the steep slopes through a narrow footpath. It took around one hour to reach our birding ground.
Local villagers have built wooden platform some 6 feet above the ground for visitors who want to watch the paradise birds. Our watch indicated 06.10 when we reached it. As soon as we arrived at the birding site, rain began to fall. We were determined to see the paradise birds, so, we decided to wait.
Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) in Raja Ampat
A Male Red Bird of Paradise was performing courtship dance
Approximately fifteen minutes later, the rain stopped. Male Red Birds of Paradise flew to the branches of a tall tree and began calling their female counterparts. They jumped up and down the "poles" which had been cleared by them from twigs and leaves. The courtship dance competition among the male Red Birds of Paradise was tough. It seemed that a female bird was impressed with the performance of one of the males. She hopped to the top of the pole. Seeing this opportunity, the male Red Bird of Paradise approached her. He made a few gestures to the female bird and after that, in less than one minute they were mating.
The other male Red Birds of Paradise continued to call other female birds. Unfortunately, none came closer to them.
The whole performance lasted for a few hours until approximately 09.30. During that watching session, I was able to make some descent quality photographs of the beautiful birds. I used Canon 200D + Tamron 150-600mm lens.
It was a nice trip that morning even though the weather was not supportive in the beginning. The tour participants, Bruce and Paige Harvey, also enjoyed the morning bird session. They used 10×42mm ED lens birding binoculars to watch the paradise birds.
In addition to Red BOP, we also saw other tropical birds that landed on the surrounding tree. Some of them were Blyth's Hornbill, Hooded Butcherbird, and Helmetted Friarbird.
We walked back slowly along the path down to the beach and had another opportunity to watch various species of other birds as well. I was able to take pictures of Beautiful Fruit Dove, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, and Hornbill. We also saw some Moluccan King Parrot. Unfortunately, they were too far from the place where we stood. I could only watch them using my binoculars and not able to shoot them with my camera.
If you are interested in visiting in watching the courtship dance of Red Bird of Paradise as well as other tropical birds un Raja Ampat and want me to organize your tour, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by e-mail to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.
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