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Males can reach a length of 16 centimetres (6.3 in) (21 cm including central rectrices) and a weight of 53–67 g., while females can reach a length of 16 cm,but a weight of 52–60 g. UK viewers can tune in to Planet Earth II, which continues on BBC One this Sunday at 20:00 GMT. Keep learning, participate in group conversations. "So if we don’t try to appreciate these qualities from the perspective of the female birds of paradise, we are sort of missing the boat.”. Now if you were to look at them from the underside, there’s even a better example of that “now you see it, now you don’t” trick of iridescence on this brilliant emerald green breast shield. Missing the boat, is a rather generous understatement as it turns out, since when viewed from above, the Wilson’s bird of paradise doesn’t resemble a bird at all, rather a bright and shining green disc, which flashes and shimmers in the gloom of the forest floor. If we look at Wilson’s in a still photograph, we’re struck right away with the incredible variety and intensities of colors that we see. That’s actually all bare skin. When you catch them in the right light sometimes they look incredibly blue, incredibly shiny. ',” he laughs. : The Aerial Display of the Common Nighthawk, Storing Food: The Granaries of Acorn Woodpeckers. It’s hard to believe that we have been unwittingly admiring this dance for decades from the stalls, when all along the view from the dress circle was not only better, but a different show entirely. He’s got this incredible blue head. And those aren’t feathers. Ed Scholes and Tim Laman, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, have spent over ten years criss-crossing New Guinea watching and filming every species of bird of paradise. I thought: 'Oh, wow! Together with the Planet Earth II team, they set out to film the Wilson’s dance from the female’s viewpoint, something that had never before been attempted. “There are lots of smaller details in the dance, which if you’re watching as a scientist, are equally astonishing. And you see this bright yellow that’s on the nape and neck, and the crimson red that’s down the middle of the back and also on the coverts of the wings. It’s really extraordinary. It’s another example of structural color in … But, crucially, she sits and critiques his concert from an elevated position, directly above him. It is not known for sure about this species, but based on other bird of paradise species of the same size, it is believed that the female Wilson’s bird of paradise lays between 1 and 3 eggs per clutch and that they are tan or brown with dark spots. But yet perhaps the most hidden feature of color on this bird that becomes obvious in some video is that the inside of his mouth is also colored. “The females are the ones who decide who gets to pass their genes on to the next generation, and they have a pretty strong consensus, in that only a handful of males mate with most females," explains Ed Scholes. Males and females are the same size. Not much else is known about this elusive species' breeding behavior. Females have reddish-brown to … Be the first to know about new BBC Earth articles and wildlife programmes by signing up for the BBC's new personalised email newsletter here. UK viewers can tune in to Planet Earth II which continues on BBC One on Sundays at 8pm. Male Wilson's bird of paradise displays to female from a small sapling, Papua New Guinea (Credit: NPL/Tim Laman) Ed Scholes and Tim Laman, from the Cornell Lab of … Even the legs on Wilson’s are pretty spectacular. View image of Male Wilson's bird of paradise displays to female from a sapling (Credit: NPL/Tim Laman), watching and filming every species of bird of paradise, View image of Wilson's bird of paradise male on a display pole (Credit: NPL/Tim Laman), View image of Wilson's bird of paradise flaunts a magnificent emerald display (Credit: BBC), BBC's new personalised email newsletter here. They suspected that the female Wilson’s was enjoying a ‘secret’ performance that no one had ever seen. And then there on the tail he’s got these two curlicue handlebar mustache looking tail feathers. New Guinea is a relatively new island, having been pushed up from the sea a mere 10 million years ago. This is going to be good! “Even though I had an idea of what to expect, I was really surprised at how different it looked. The male Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise sports more colors than any other bird in the family. They have the same kind of structural blue coloration as his head does. Apparently it is the alluring light green color in the stunning finale that clinches the performance. But when he gets it lined up, like he does when he’s in his courtship display to the female, it’s this intense bright green color. It’s another example of structural color in the skin that makes those legs so blue. Why are birds of paradise dating dances so extreme? And all of them are used and utilized by the males in the context of his courtship display. You can also follow BBC Earth on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook. And this is the Wilson’s bird-of-paradise. Explore more at www.birdsofparadiseproject.org. That color is made from the proteins inside the skin and how they’re arranged. Filmed and photographed by Tim Laman. Decorated with the most extravagant plumes and feathers of any group of animals on Earth, the birds of paradise and their vibrant courtship dances have captivated scientists and explorers for more than 500 years. You can see he’s got all the primary colors right there. There’s one species that really comes to mind as a fantastic example of all the remarkable attributes of color shown in all the birds-of-paradise. So are there other species of birds of paradise whose dances we’ve been judging from the wrong seats? The Wilson’s bird of paradise (Cicinnurus respublica) is a particularly beautiful example of this highly embellished family. By whatever mechanism they are produced, the combined result is one of the most colorful animals on the planet. Read about our approach to external linking. Females are much less ornately decorated than males, and the bare skin on their head is a much less brilliant lilac-blue. A new perspective on male Wilson's bird of paradise courtship displays, captured for Planet Earth II, reveals a totally different looking dance never before seen. Even the legs on Wilson’s are pretty spectacular. Approximately the size of a starling, the male is dressed in an elaborate cape of vermillion, with a turquoise skull cap. This frees up the males to spend a huge amount of time and energy producing their extravagant ornaments and spectacular displays. This media cannot be played on your device. And you know, of course, all of these colors that you see in all of these feathers and in the skin are the result of generations of females having selected for males that have them. It is the female that builds the nest and incubates the eggs. This never before seen angle was beautifully captured by the team for the Jungles episode of Planet Earth II, but Ed is keen to stress there is much more to admire than the large emerald breast shield, which viewers won’t fail to miss. David Attenborough is a huge fan, and so it was no surprise that this family of birds were offered a starring role in his new series Planet Earth II. There are two mating seasons per year for the Wilson's bird-of-paradise: from May until June and again in October. This is a good example of that kind of structural coloration that makes intense iridescent. A lot of times it just looks black. “We look at a male bird of paradise, and we realise he’s astonishingly beautiful, and marvel at his feathers, but really the only thing that matters is what the females are seeing. Yellows and reds are paintlike pigments. “We have to consider what we’re seeing, and what the female is seeing, and there are definitely a handful of other species where we haven’t seen the full story yet.”. Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise: A Full Spectrum, How Yellow-billed Loons Survive in the Arctic, Zoom! These red and yellow feathers are a great example of pigment-based colors. Blues and greens are created by the interaction of light and the microscopic structure of feathers and skin. 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