Rare video confirms new "dancing" bird species.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Vogelkop Bird-of-Paradise
The Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise. Photo by Tim Laman/Macaulay Library.

Smooth Dance Moves Confirm New Bird-of-Paradise Species
Rare video highlights unique behavior and sounds
For release: April 17, 2018

Ithaca, NY—Newly publicized audiovisuals support full species status for one of the dancing birds-of-paradise in New Guinea. This new species, called the Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise, is found only in the island's far-western Bird's Head, or Vogelkop, region. In a new paper published in the journal PeerJ, scientists "show and tell" half-a-dozen ways this form is distinct from the more widespread Superb Bird-of-Paradise, now called the Greater Superb Bird-of-Paradise—the bird known for its bouncy "smiley face" dance routine.

"After you see what the Vogelkop form looks like and acts like in the wild, there’s little room for doubt that it is a separate species," says Ed Scholes with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Birds-of-Paradise Project. "The courtship dance is different. The vocalizations are different. The females look different. Even the shape of the displaying male is different."
              See the physical and acoustic differences explained in this video.
          Vogelkop Bird-of-Paradise

When expanded for courtship display, the Vogelkop male's raised cape creates a completely different appearance—crescent-shaped with pointed tips rather than the oval shape of the widespread form of the species. The way the Vogelkop male dances for the female is also is distinctive, the steps being smooth instead of bouncy.
The Cornell Lab's Birds-of-Paradise Project ( is a research and education initiative to document, interpret, and protect the birds-of-paradise, their native environments, and the other biodiversity of the New Guinea region—one of the largest remaining tropical wildernesses on the planet.
Download comparison image.
Caption: The raised cape of the Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise (right) is crescent shaped and unlike the oval shape of the widespread Greater Superb Bird-of-Paradise (left) found throughout most of New Guinea. Right image by Tim Laman/Macaulay Library. Left image from video by Ed Scholes/Macaulay Library.

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Media contact:
Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (607) 254-2137,
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

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