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Astrapia stephaniae

Astrapia stephaniae, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Cladus: Telluraves
Cladus: Australaves
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Infraordo: Corvida
Superfamilia: Corvoidea

Familia: Paradisaeidae
Genus: Astrapia
Species: Astrapia stephaniae
Subspecies: A. s. ducalis - A. s. feminina - A. s. stephaniae

Astrapia stephaniae (Finsch & A.B. Meyer, 1885)

Zeitschrift Für Die Gesammte Ornithologie. 2 p. 378
Vernacular names
English: Stephanie's Astrapia
日本語: シロジクオナガフウチョウ

Stephanie's astrapia (Astrapia stephaniae), also known as Princess Stephanie's astrapia, is a species of bird-of-paradise of the family Paradisaeidae, native to the Bird's Tail Peninsula (Papua New Guinea). This species was first described by Carl Hunstein in 1884.

A common species throughout its range, Princess Stephanie's astrapia is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Hybrids between this species and the ribbon-tailed astrapia, in the small area where their ranges overlap, have been named Barnes's astrapia.


The scientific name of Stephanie's astrapia is Astrapia stephaniae. Its genus name, Astrapia, means "flash of lightning", referring to the brilliant iridescent plumage present in some form on all astapias. Its specific name, stephaniae, honors Princess Stephanie of Belgium, the wife of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, who also was honored in the Blue bird-of-paradise's scientific name, rudolphi. Upon discovery, its former genus name was Astarchia, meaning "Queen of Stars" (a nickname for the moon) or "Star chief".
Male Stephanie's astrapia specimen at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center.
Female Stephanie's astrapia specimen.

Stephanie's astrapia is a most distinctive bird-of-paradise, and extremely unmistakable to recognize. The males of this species reach around 84 cm (33 inches) in length, and a considerable portion of its length comes from the long, 47 cm (18 inches), glossy, black central tail feathers, which almost compete with the exaggerated, white tail feathers of the male Ribbon-tailed astrapias. The upper head of the male is an iridescent greenish-blue, shading to indigo blue in the back; the chin to the upper breast section is an iridescent aqua to greenish-blue, though the throat area is usually a dark, shaded tint depending on the angle of view. Below the iridescent upper breast section, dense, black feathers lie beneath it, and underneath the dense feathers lies a narrow, iridescent, coppery-red to orange-reddish band. The rest of the underparts are an iridescent, dull coppery-red to black (again, depending on the angle of view). The upperparts, namely the mantle (or back), are a dull light-green, but may appear brownish or black in some views. The upperwing is black, with a conspicuous purple gloss, the underwing is a lighter shade of black. The most distinctive feature, the extremely exaggerated central tail plumes, are wholly black with a purple gloss, and white rachides. The feet are grey-blackish, the bill is blackish, the mouth is pale green, and the eyes are dark brown. The female, as typical in the family Paradisaeidae, is drastically different from the male. She is mostly dark brown with a dark black-bluish head and upperbreast, black-barred, cinnamon-brown underparts, and a reasonably long, blackish tail.

In the places where they are sympatric, Stephanie's astrapia rather frequently hybridizes with the Ribbon-tailed astrapia. The hybrid offspring has been called "Barnes's astrapia". This form of astrapia has extremely long central rectrices that have variable amounts of black and white, and are sometimes seen in a mysterious, spiky shape near the end of the tail.

Ecology and behavior

Stephanie's astrapia, like a majority of its relatives, are shown to be predominantly frugivorous, particularly favoring members of the genus Schefflera. Animal prey takes up the other portion of the diet. Recorded prey includes frogs, insects, spiders, and some skink species. The birds typically feed alone, occasionally associating with other Paradisaeids, like the Brown sicklebill, and other bird species.

Courtship and breeding

The breeding period typically occurs anywhere from May to July, though reproduction is viable to happen year-round. Male Stephanie's astrapias are polygynous, exhibiting lekking behavior; the males call to attract females to their display perches. There may be as many as 5 birds displaying, though three is more typical. The display consists of the males hopping from each other's perch, swapping places, and chasing the female from perch to perch. The female tends to all nest and chick duties by herself, like most other birds-of-paradise species.
Male (left) and female
Subspecies and taxonomy

Belonging to the genus Astrapia, Stephanie's astrapia is most closely related to the ribbon-tailed astrapia, and the two share very similar features, though Stephanie's lacks the conspicuous bobble of feathers found on the ribbon-tailed. The genus Astrapia falls into a clade with the genera Epimachus and Paradigalla, though they are closer to the genus Paradigalla. Stephanie's astrapia has been considered to have three subspecies, the third being race ducalis, but that race is synonymized with the nominate. There are currently two recognized subspecies:

Astrapia stephaniae feminina — Schrader and Bismarck ranges to Sepik-Wahgi divide
Astrapia stephaniae stephaniae — Owen Stanley Range

des monts Doma et Hagen jusqu'à la chaîne Owen Stanley, en passant par le mont Michael et la chaîne Herzog). Une race supplémentaire, A. s. ducalis, vivant dans les monts Herzog
Status and conservation

A common species throughout its range, Princess Stephanie's astrapia is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

BirdLife International (2018). "Astrapia stephaniae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T22706222A130412419. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22706222A130412419.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.

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