Two king bird-of-paradise hatchlings at 14 days old

Fully fledged king bird-of-paradise chicks being fed by the mother

Singapore, 19 July 2012Jurong Bird Park is the first in South East Asia and the second institution globally to successfully breed the king bird-of-paradise. Out of a clutch of two eggs, two chicks hatched on 18 May, bringing the total number of king bird-of-paradise at the Bird Park to five.

Jurong Bird Park first attempted to breed the king bird-of-paradise in 2010. That year, one egg by a breeding pair was found broken and the other was infertile. The inexperienced female king bird-of-paradise was also observed to be throwing eggs out of the nest box. Although the breeding pair was moved to an off-exhibit side aviary in 2011, successful hatchings were not to be achieved until a year later in 2012. Keepers decided to try something slightly different this year. They reused a nest box which already had a nest, abandoned by another female king bird-of-paradise. The present ‘mother’ accepted the nest and laid 2 eggs soon after.

Birds only breed in conditions they feel secure and comfortable in – and this species usually nests at heights of 3metres in the wild. In this instance, although the off-exhibit side aviary had less vegetation for camouflage, and the nest box was lower from the ground at 1.5metres, this breeding pair felt safe in the environment that Bird Park created for them.

“We are very proud to welcome not one, but two king bird-of-paradise hatchlings. Breeding and taking care of birds is not an exact science, and it took two years of dedication and keen observation by our keepers to achieve this. Although listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, restrictions have made it difficult to acquire more numbers of the king bird-of-paradise from New Guinea, so the two hatchlings will certainly add to the collection we have in Bird Park,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park.

Interestingly enough, the king bird-of-paradise is the smallest species of bird-of-paradise. Females are unadorned and a dull brown, while the males are crimson and white with bright blue feet and green-tipped fan-like-plumes on its shoulder. The two elongated tail wires are decorated with emerald green disk feathers on its tip. The king bird-of-paradise is distributed throughout lowland forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. This so-called “living gem” is the smallest and most vividly colored among birds of paradise. The diet consists mainly of fruit and arthropods. An extraordinary display is performed by the male with a series of tail swinging, fluffing of its abdomen white feathers that makes the bird look like a cottonball, and acrobatic pendulum displays.