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The Lesser Bird-of-paradise is medium-sized, up to 32 cm-long, maroon-brown with a yellow crown and brownish-yellow upper back. The male has a dark emerald-green throat, a pair of long tail-wires and is adorned with ornamental flank plumes which are deep yellow at their base and fade outwards into white. The female is a maroon bird with a dark-brown head and whitish underparts. Further study is required, but it seems likely that birds of paradise also possess toxins in their skins, derived from their insect prey.
The Lesser Bird-of-paradise is distributed throughout forests of northern New Guinea, and the nearby islands of Misool and Yapen. Widespread and common throughout its large range, the Lesser Bird-of-paradise is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.