Saturday, February 2, 2019

Watching Western Parotia

This morning (2 February 2019), I accompanied Ms. Susan Myer from Wings Birding to the dancing ground of Western Parotia (Parotia sefilata) located around 1,500 meters above sea level in Arfak mountains. This was not a favorable month to watch the paradise bird because of the rainy season. However, I and local villagers knew some tricks on how to attract the birds.
We left the Lorikeet guesthouse where we stayed at 06.00. We went on foot up the steep trails of Mount Soyti in Mokwam region.  We walked slowly. A lot of species of birds were singing in the densed forest. Some that I recognized were Vogelkop Melidectes, Black-eared Catbird, Vogelkop Bowerbird, Blue Grey Robin, Mountain Mouse Warbler, Western Smoky Honeyeater, and a lot more.
Western Parotia (Parotia sefilata)
Male Western Parotia
We entered the birding hut after walking for 20 minutes. The dancing ground of the Western Parotia was only 5 meters away from the hut. The hut was made of wooden sticks and palm leaves with four holes facing the dancing ground of the bird. Visitors used the holes to watch the birds.
Two days earlier, I had come here with Ms. Myer to do our first attempt in watching the bird. I cleared the dancing ground from a lot of dried leaves that covered it. I also brought red pandanus fruit and had it tied on wooden poles near the dancing ground. Our first attempt was not so successful. We were able to watch the Western Parotia but did not see him dancing. On this second attempt, we really hoped that we could see the courtship dance of this paradise bird.
And yes, it took around one and a half hour of waiting before we could see some female Western Parotia landed on the Red Pandanus Fruit to eat its red grains that looked like rice. When the female birds came, the male ones approached. We saw at least two of them. One was a juvenile bird whereas the other - the adult Western Parotia. Because this was the dancing ground of the adult male Western Parotia, the young one could not contest him. The male Western Parotia made several calls and then descended along a hanging vine to his dancing ground. He immediately performed a short dance for around 2 seconds. The female Western Parotia were not impressed. They flew away.
Steep and Slippery road in Arfak mountains
It seemed that the male Western Parotia did not quit. He flew around the forest and made a lot of calls to attract the female bird. He returned to his dancing ground again to clear it from some leaves that landed on it that morning. He also chased away the a female Superb Bird of Paradise that was also eating the red fruit. We saw him danced three times that morning. Because it was not a mating season, the female Western Parotia were not interested in him. Around four female birds came to eat the fruits and then flew away.
It was around 09.30 when I saw the male Western Parotia landed on the red fruit. He looked tired and hungry. After having his breakfast, he climbed the trunk of a small tree in front of our birding hut. While he was climbing he brushed his bill on the trunk to clean it from the left-over of the fruit. He sat for a few seconds on a branch and off he flew into the thick dark forest. We waited for around 15 minutes but could not see the signs of his return.
We were quite happy to see his dances. Unfortunately, I could not make pictures of the performance because the battery of my camera had been exhausted. I could only shoot him while he was hanging on a branch of a wooden stick that supports the red fruit close to the place where I sat.
We returned to our guesthouse with happy faces. We had seen the courtship dance of the male Western Paroti. It was a great experience for us.
In addition to Western Parotia, during our 5 days/ 4 nights tour in the rainforest of Arfak mountains, we saw several target birds such as the Magnificent Bird of Paradise, Black Sicklebill, Vogelkop Bowerbird, and female Superb Bird of Paradise.
Magnificent Bird of Paradise (Dyphyllodes magnificus)
Magnificent Bird of Paradise (Dyphillodes magnificus)
We also did some night walk to a nearby river where we saw some frogs and water beetle. It was a great experience traveling in higher montane forest of Arfak range eventhough the weather was not so supportive.
If you are interested in visiting Manokwari and want me to organize your trip, please, contact me by email to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.
Also read: Paradise bird that dances like a ballerina