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Carola's Parotia bird-of-paradise

The Carola's Parotia from New Guinea performs one of the most complex courtship dances in the animal kingdom. Edwin Scholes, a visiting fellow at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, filmed the rare footage shown here. For the full story, read "Digitizing the Dance of the Hip Hop Bird."

The clip above shows an adult male Carola's Parotia near Crater Mountain, Eastern Highland Province, Papua New Guinea, performing the Hop and Shake display to four visiting females. The display takes place in the court, which the male has cleared of leaves and vegetation for the performance. In the background, hidden in the leaves, another adult male watches the performance too. The display is called the Hop and Shake because of the way the male repeatedly hops in place while ruffling and shaking his plumage. Another prominent feature is the way he flutters the whisker-like feathers of the throat and chin.

The clip above shows the same male doing the hop-waggle version of Ballerina Dance display. This display is the quintessential parotia display in which the displaying male transforms himself into something resembling a ballerina, complete with tutu-like skirt made from the elongated feathers of the the upper body. The display has four main phases: bow, walk, pause and waggle. In this version, the waggle phase includes hopping back and forth before leaping up to the perch where mating may take place. (In this clip you can just make out mating from the shadows on the court floor at the end of the clip). In other versions of this display, the male waggles his head and neck back and forth while standing in place without hops from side to side.

To view more clips of Carola's Parotia and other birds, visit the Macaulay Library's Animal Behavior Archive.

To learn more about birds of paradise and research by Ed Scholes, visit