Paradisaea rudolphi


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Paradisaea rudolphi
Species Authority: (Finsch, 1885)
Common Name(s):
English Blue Bird-of-paradise, Blue Bird-of-Paradise

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-07-24
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Beehler, B., Bishop, K., Dutson, G., Leary, T., Supuma, M. & van den Bergh, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a small population that is inferred to be in decline owing to pressure from hunting for its plumes.

2012 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Paradisaea rudolphi occurs in the eastern Central Ranges of Papua New Guinea, from Mt Sisa south of Tari to the Owen Stanley range. It is patchily distributed and absent in many areas, including in seemingly suitable habitat in eastern Papua New Guinea, but nowhere common (Frith and Beehler 1998, K. D. Bishop in litt. 2000, B. Beehler in litt. 2012). Advertising males were spaced at about every 200 m along one suitable forest ridge, and 400 m along another, and three radio-tagged birds had home ranges of 5, 17 and 33 ha over c.50 days (Pruett-Jones and Pruett-Jones 1988). At another study site, males were less dense, occupying up to 100 ha, perhaps owing to the more patchy forest or the higher hunting pressure at this site (Whiteside 1998). The species can also be found in degraded forest remnants, at the edges of gardens and in copses of planted trees in upland valleys of central Papua New Guinea. Singing adult males have been reported in the highly populous Tari Valley, including in areas with little original forest, suggesting a tolerance of highly degraded forest (B. Beehler in litt. 2012).

Papua New Guinea
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It occurs in lower montane forest, mainly at 1,400-1,800 m, but occasionally from 1,100 to 2,000 m, especially female-plumaged birds. Although displaying males usually use patches of primary forest, they have also been reported singing in the highly populous Tari valley, in areas with little remaining primary forest (B. Beehler in litt. 2012). The species is able to tolerate highly degraded habitats, occurring in garden mosaics, copses of planted trees in upland valleys (B. Beehler in litt. 2012, G. Dutson in litt. 2012), forest edge and nearby disturbed areas (van den Bergh 2009). However, it may be excluded from more degraded habitats as a result of hunting of males and competition with the more adaptable Raggiana Bird-of-paradise P. raggiana. It is also uncertain whether P. rudolphi breeds successfully in degraded habitats (M. van den Bergh in litt. 2014). The favoured elevational zone continues to be degraded by intensified agriculture and a growing rural population. It is largely a canopy species feeding mainly on fruit (Coates 1990, Mack 1992, Frith and Beehler 1998).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat is hunting for its pectoral and tail feathers (Beehler 1985, Coates 1990, Frith and Beehler 1998). Although hunting occurs mainly for collection of feathers for traditional customary practices, birds or feathers are occasionally sold to tourists (van den Bergh 2009), even though it is illegal to take them out of the country. Despite a law designed to prevent the killing of birds with non-traditional means (i.e. shotguns), there are many more children than 40 years ago, who shoot fairly significant numbers of birds on the nest, using slingshots (B. Beehler in litt. 2012). Research has also revealed that these laws and regulations are often not enforced, or routinely misunderstood, meaning that they have had little influence on hunting pressure and trade (M. van den Bergh in litt. 2014). Although the species is hunted for its plumes, it is not worn as commonly as other species and is not frequently sold (particularly in the highlands). However, a few tribal groups still use the species’s plumes and so hunting is likely to be concentrated in certain areas (B. Beehler in litt. 2012, M. Supuma in litt. 2012). Furthermore, although Christian priests forbid the hunting of birds-of-paradise, the increasing celebration of Christmas may add pressure for plume collection (M. van den Bergh in litt. 2014). Remaining forest, including the species’s favoured elevational zone, is under pressure from clearance for agriculture by the increasing human population. However, agriculture-related habitat alteration does not necessarily preclude the species from these areas as it has been found to occur in mosaics of highly degraded forest remnants and gardens, and can survive in human-dominated ecosystems (B. Beehler in litt. 2012, G. Dutson in litt. 2012). There are still significant areas of its range which are inaccessible and largely uninhabited (Coates 1990, Frith and Beehler 1998, B. Beehler in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. This species is protected by law in Papua New Guinea (Fauna Act of 1966-73), although this is routinely not enforced (M. van den Bergh in litt. 2014). It is officially illegal for non-citizens to take birds-of-paradise without a permit from the Department of Environment & Conservation and to kill birds-of-paradise with anything other than traditional means (Beehler in litt. to van den Bergh 2009, Sekhran & Miller 1996). While all Birds of Paradise are protected by the Papua New Guinea Fauna Act (1968), the enforcement of this protection is challenging, considering that over 93% of land ownership rests with traditional custodians (M. Supuma in litt. 2012). In addition, there is a distinct lack of funds to support enforcement officers to monitor the trade of the species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey western boundary of range. Survey historical sites in north and east of range. Estimate population densities and sizes at known sites. Investigate tolerance of secondary forest and degraded areas for both foraging and breeding, including the mapping and monitoring of male song-perches in populous mid-montane valleys (such as the Wahgi and Tari valleys). Research rates of forest loss in preferred altitudinal range. Monitor numbers at most accessible sites such as Ambua Lodge. Monitor trade prices and quantities. Investigate hunting levels and attitudes to control amongst hunters. Create large, locally-managed forest reserves with an enforced hunting ban. Run awareness and education programmes for landowners and highland inhabitants. Raise awareness of the conservation status of the species amongst tourists. Encourage traditional land custodians to conserve their existing plumes using effective storage methods. Enforce existing legislation. Utilise its well-known image as a flagship species for ecotourism and conservation ventures. 

Citation: BirdLife International 2014. Paradisaea rudolphi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 18 September 2014.
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