Magnificent Riflebird

Birds of Paradise

Magnificent Riflebird

Magnificent Riflebird
Photographer:  © William T. Cooper

Common name

Magnificent Riflebird

Scientific name

Ptiloris magnificus


Ptiloris (Greek, feathered nose, alluding to feathers at base of upper bill); magnificus (Latin, magnificent, splendid); common name allegedly based on fancied resemblance of colouration of plumage to uniforms of British riflemen.


Sexually dimorphic. Males, 34 cm; females, 28 cm. Adult males black with an metallic blue-green iridescent crown and breast shield formed by narrow line from throat, broadening to chest. Adult females are brown on head, upperparts and tail, with pale off-white eye stripe and underparts, with dark barrings.


Mainly fruit with some insects and other small animals.


Lowland, hill and mid montane forests, swamps, monsoons, forest edges and gallery forests; 0-700m, locally to 1450m.


Polygynous. Display season is late wet season through to dry season (April-September). Solitary males display from traditional perches. Courtship display involves male rocking side to side and up and down, and hopping towards and away from female.


Breeding season June-February across species’ range. Only females build and attend nests. Incubation, nestling and development periods unknown. Known to hybridise with Superb, Twelve-wired and Lesser Birds of Paradise.

Status and conservation

Not threatened; common and rather tolerant of selectively logged forests.


New Guinea: lowland and hill forests; Australia: northern Cape York Peninsula.

Michael Hugill , Online Producer (Content Strategy & Social Media)
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