Discovered in 1848, and is allegedly named due to the resemblance of the colour of the uniforms of the British riflemen during the rule of Queen Victoria of England. The Victoria’s Riflebird is a bird of paradise endemic to the Atherton Tableland region.
The male Victoria’s Riflebird is black with iridescent blue/green markings on his head, chest and tail. When he flies, you can hear a sound of rustling paper. The female and juveniles are brown. When calling to the female, the male makes a harsh, grating call, and opens his beak wide, showing the bright yellow colour inside.
To attract a female, the male has a highly ritualised mating dance, see below for images and videos. The female builds a well camouflaged nest of leaves amongst ferns and vine tendrils. Male juveniles can be seen practising their dances, sometimes to each other, and their inexperience can be quite amusing!
The riflebird is seen commonly around the cottages, and comes right up to the decks. The male is certainly not shy, and has an air of arrogance. From June to September the mating dance is seen regularly by our guests at the cottages. You may also see dances right up to November, as in some of the videos I have taken below.
Victoria’s Riflebird Image Gallery
Click on an image to launch the slide show of full size images. Please wait while it loads. Click an image to exit the slide show.
[nggallery id=11 template=caption]
Victoria’s Riflebird Videos
Nov 2011 – This was filmed just out from the deck of our Pioneer Cottage. I heard the typical wing clapping of a mating dance and looked out into the forest (you can hear the sound towards the end of the video when the male goes into a full dance). He was dancing on a horizontal log, not on top of a vertical log which is more common. The female flew into the trees before I was able to get outside with my camera. There was also a juvenile male displaying in the vicinity. During mating season hardly a day goes by where I would not witness some sort of display, somewhere on the property.
Dec 2011 -This was filmed late in the afternoon at the Cottages. The Riflebird was dancing about 30m up in a tree. The video starts with the male calling for a female. When the female comes into view, the male holds his wings out attempting to interest her. She then comes close to him and he begins his dance, swaying from side to side and bringing his wings around her with a loud clapping sound (you may just hear the sound in the video). In the video, he tries twice to woo her, but to no avail, she is not interested. Note the third bird comes to watch later in the video.
Dec 2011 – I caught this juvenile riflebird practising his dance moves amongst the ginger near the Tuscany Cottage. I particularly like his frenetic head swaying. Perhaps he shouldn’t spit out seeds whilst performing though.