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Huon Astrapia

Astrapia rothschildi

The Huon astrapia, known scientifically as Astrapia rothschildi, is a medium-sized bird-of-paradise with a striking appearance. Males are adorned with a glossy black head and breast, featuring a velvety-blue iridescence, and a distinctive coppery-orange gorget-band. Their hindneck boasts an elongated, erectile cape of iridescent blue-green feathers, tipped with pinkish-violet. The upperparts exhibit a subtle bronze-green sheen, while the underparts are a deep oily green. The tail feathers are impressively long, purplish-black with a bluish sheen. Females are less ornate, primarily a dull brownish black with pale barring and a much shorter tail.

Identification Tips

To identify the Huon astrapia, look for the male's long tail and the characteristic iridescent coppery-orange gorget-band. Females are more subdued in color but can be recognized by their size and the slight pale barring on their underparts.


This species inhabits montane and subalpine forests, preferring areas that are not the highest canopy but rather the lower levels of the forest.


The Huon astrapia is endemic to the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea, where it can be found at elevations ranging from 1,460 to 3,500 meters.


The Huon astrapia is known to be sedentary, spending most of its time foraging in various levels of the forest. Males perform elaborate courtship displays involving perch-hopping, flick-pivoting, and an inverted tail-fan display.

Song & Calls

The calls of the Huon astrapia are described as a rough "jj jj jj," and when adult males take flight, their wings produce a "shek" noise similar to a sprinkler.


Courtship displays are complex, with males engaging in various movements to attract females. Nesting occurs from October to November, with the female constructing the nest and tending to all parental duties alone. The nest is a shallow cup made of vines, dirt, rootlets, and roots, and a single pinkish, blotched egg is laid.

Similar Species

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Diet and Feeding

The Huon astrapia feeds on seeds, fruits, and some animal matter such as skinks and possibly insects and arachnids. It forages by probing knotholes and pecking among moss and epiphytes.

Conservation status

The Huon astrapia is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, though it is not well-known and is almost in the Data-Deficient category. It is listed in Appendix II of CITES and is not routinely hunted, though its feathers are culturally significant to local people.

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