Western Parotia - the Ballet Dancer

Male Western Parotia (Parotia sefilata)
Male Western Parotia - the Ballet Dancer
I have just returned from a 12-day hiking and birding tour across West Papua province from Raja Ampat to Sorong and Arfak mountains. I guided two birding tourists from the United States. During the tour, I saw a lot of species of birds and other animals. One of the birds that attracted my attention was Western Parotia. This bird of paradise did not have beautiful feather like the Lesser Birds of Paradise. However, it was considered as one of the most attractive birds of paradise in the world.
Western Parotia lived in mid montane forest of vogelkop region of West Papua. Its feather was mostly black with metallic breast shield feather.
To watch Western Parotia, I and the tour participants had to wake up at 04.30. It was still dark and cold. We made preparation by wearing proper clothing and hiking/ sport shoes. After that, we had tea/ coffee and some biscuits as our morning snacks. At approximately 05.00, we left the guesthouse where we stayed for the dancing ground of the paradise bird. Because it was still dark, we used flashlight. The path to the birding ground was steep. The American birders brought walking sticks to help them walking up the slopes. Sometimes, we had to make several stops to adjust our breath. It took around 30 minutes for us to reach our destination.

To increase our chance of seeing the paradise birds, local villagers had put Red Pandanus Fruit next to the dancing ground of Western Parotia. They put it on a simple wooden frames around 4.5 feet above the ground. When we arrived at the birding site, we still had to enter a hut that was made of corrugated metal roof. It was built by villagers and located around 5 meters from the dancing ground of Western Parotia.
Male Western Parotia - a black bird that dances like ballerina
Male Western Parotia perched on a hanging vine
We sat inside the birding hut and waited for the birds to come. It did not take long for the birds to show up. The first one that landed on the fruits was the female Superb Bird of Paradise. Her body size was slimmer than the female Western Parotia. Minutes later when our watch had pointed to 06.15, we saw some female Western Parotias. At first, they landed on the branches of trees above the dancing ground. Later, they flew to the red fruits to eat its grain. The Superb Bird of Paradise hopped to the nearby branch when the bigger birds come.
Male Western Parotia came too. He called his female counterparts, jumped to the fruits trying to approach the female. It seemed that they were not interested. They avoided him for a while and then returned to the Red Pandanus Fruit again to continue eating their breakfast.
The male Western Parotia flew to his dancing ground. He picked up the fallen leaves and twigs one by one. Sometimes he jumped back and forth. It took around 2 or 3 minutes for him to clear his ground. When it was ready, he bowed down and did his dance rehearsal. The female Western Parotia kept on eating the fruits. Later, some flew to the branches of the tree above the dancing ground of Male Western Parotia. They only watched him from safe distance.
Male Western Parotia did not give up. He tried again. He performed his courtship dance like a professional ballet dancer. His feather expanded to a shape that looked like short skirt. He danced beautifully to the right and to the left. He also moved his head and neck.
Inside the birding hut, I and the American birdwatchers were busy pressing record button to make video or shutter button to make photographs. The ballet dance performance was not long but very impressive in the eyes of human being. We were very happy to have seen such wonderful dance.
The female Western Parotia was not impressed with his morning show. They flew away. The male Western Parotia hopped to a hanging vine. He was in dispair. He called several times but the female Western Parotia did not come. He flew to the red fruits and had some of its grains. After that he flew away again trying to find his female birds. When he was not around, the female Western Parotia came again to continue eating their breakfast.

No comments:

Post a Comment