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Victoria's Riflebird (40)
sandpiper2 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1906 W: 107 N: 4875] (16757)
My two previous posts illustrated a pair of honeyeaters that were attracted to a feeder at a small restaurant at Paluma. They were the entrée to the main course and the reason we had come to this fine establishment; to get face to face with a Victoria’s Riflebird (Ptilotis victoriae). Like the honeyeaters, they can’t resist fresh bananas, and to have this beautiful member of the family Paradisaeidae only two metres away is indeed a special treat.
There are 4 species of ‘Birds of Paradise’ in Australia, 3 riflebirds and a manucode. Like their relatives from New Guinea, they are restricted to mountain rainforests and are more often heard than seen. The males are gaudy in their appearance. Unfortunately Paluma was heavily clothed in clouds while we were there and the true beauty of his plumage was difficult to capture. But I think this profile and the full body picture in the WORKSHOP will give you some idea of his rich glossy blue-black plumage.
Although they like bananas and other fruits of the forest, Riflebirds are usually observed feeding like giant treecreepers. They climb up and down rotting tree limbs and stumps, ripping bark off and probing into cavities in search of beetle larvae.
They are not great fliers and the males wings sound like two pieces of silk rubbing together when he flies (Note the square wing tip in the WORKSHOP shot). Their gape is an unbelievably bright yellow which the male uses like a beacon during their bizarre courtship behaviour. Males have a favourite display stump, usually deep in the forest. They sit on top of the stump in the early morning, and thrust their arched wings over their head and open their mouths to catch the light and sway back and forth. The effect of the early sunlight reflecting off the glossy plumage coupled with the golden glow of his mouth and weird calls he emits is an incredible performance to watch. I’ve only seen it twice in the wild and I was stunned; it’s easy to see how female riflebirds are enticed by his performance. Males are of course polyandrous, mating with as many females as they can attract and taking no part in nest building or raising the chicks.
Victoria’s Riflebird (named after Queen Victoria) is the smallest of the Australian species at 23cm long and is found in the elevated rainforests between Cooktown and Paluma.

Altered Image #1

sandpiper2 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1906 W: 107 N: 4875] (16757)
another shot
Edited by:sandpiper2 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1906 W: 107 N: 4875] (16757)

just a shot to illustrate the whole body and the short greenish tail and squarish wings