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Our Bird: the Superb Bird of Paradise … Plus Some Jokes


Lophorina superba
Lophorina superba

Though we have clients around the world, and though we have a core network that stretches across the US, our home base is in Honolulu, Hawaii. You may find various projects we’re involved with at the state and local level interesting and inspiring, wherever you are on the planet.

I focused my last piece on Hawaii’s High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC), a state agency initiated in 1983 to assist in the development of the tech economy; we are a part of its Service Provider Program, through which we give consultations to start-ups. This piece goes in a completely different direction, to discuss our sponsorship of the Superb Bird of Paradise (yes, that’s a real bird) at the Honolulu Zoo – one of only five American locations where this bird can be viewed by the general public.

I will first talk specifically about the bird, because it has what could be the most amazing mating ritual you have ever seen in an animal. I will also discuss birds of paradise in general because their “female choice” mating process is intriguing to explore. Then I will talk about why we partner with the zoo and its impressive attitude toward conservation: part of the reason why we chose to sponsor one of their species, after all, is because of the zoo’s firm and proven dedication to environmental sustainability.

Also, throughout the piece, I will discuss another animal that could be considered – like the Superb Bird of Paradise – to have one of the most incredible mating rituals in the world. I will start with that description now:

Mating Ritual of the Three-Toed Sloth

Because the three-toed sloth has three toes, it prefers everything in groups of three – such as the steps of its mating ritual. It goes, instinctually, as follows:

Mating Call – Like the Superb Bird of Paradise, the three-toed sloth begins its mating ritual with a call to the female. The call starts out, traditionally, with a loud bellow of dissatisfaction. However, since the onset of the digital age, this call has changed significantly. Now, sloths are able to use the Internet, SMS messaging, and even their central social hub, Slothbook, to submit their bellows of dissatisfaction electronically. (Continued below)

Super Bird of Paradise & Female Choice

What’s so remarkable about the bird we sponsor, the Super Bird of Paradise, is the way that the male displays to the female – primarily by manipulation of its feathers. The male bird, which is primarily black but also has turquoise markings, captivates the female by presenting himself as a black oval wall with a strikingly blue smiley face (you can’t make this up). The Cornell Lab of Ornithology created a video narrating the ritual and explaining how the male bird adjusts its feathers to wow his potential mate.

Female choice falls under the general category of sexual selection, Charles Darwin’s second-most prominent concept (behind natural selection). Regardless of whether you agree with the theory of evolution, the way in which female choice plays out in birds of paradise and elsewhere in the animal kingdom is fascinating, for three main reasons:

  1. Women on Top: For millions of years, the female birds of paradise have been deciding who is the optimal mate; the male has a remarkable display, and beauty has been the deciding element over skill in flying, thermoregulation, or any other factor. Female choice has determined which male birds breed and which do not.
  2. Hours & Weeks of Study: Female birds of paradise have been observed studying males for up to six weeks before mating with them; they have also been observed watching males display for as much as five or six hours in a single day!
  3. Beauty Broadens the Playing Field: Consumer products purchased by human females, such as clothing and accessories, are all a matter of personal opinion. Once the function is served (the straps, bag, and clasps of a purse, for example), it’s all the style of the design. By choosing on the basis of style (looks), female birds of paradise have chosen impressively extreme displays, furthering diversity.

Mating Ritual of the Three-Toed Sloth (Continued)

Display – The way that the male three-toed sloth presents itself to the female is also similar to the Superb Bird of Paradise. The sloth wears baggy trousers to avoid frightening the female away with his amazingly beautiful genitalia. (Continued below)

Superb’s Partnership & Honolulu Zoo’s Conservation Approach

We work hard to optimize the environmental efficiency of our data centers and all of our locations. Because we have been so conscientious with what we do internally, we thought that sponsoring an animal at the zoo would be a good way to showcase to the public one of our core business principles: conservation.

The main educational objective of the Honolulu Zoo is environmental awareness. Specifically the zoo is interested in getting across the idea to anyone who visits that animals, habitat, and culture are all interrelated. Manifold programs embraced and initiated by the Honolulu Zoo provide evidence of ongoing efforts to sustain the beauty of Hawaii for future generations.

Mating Ritual of the Three-Toed Sloth (Continued)

Dance – The final stage of the mating ritual, once the male has called and displayed, is the dance. As everyone knows, the male three-toed sloth is well-known for its breakdancing. Prior to dancing, the sloth gets extremely drunk.


The Superb Bird of Paradise is truly a remarkable animal. Like the male bird, we must show what we’ve got next to the offerings of other companies in a competitive marketplace. Like the Honolulu Zoo, Superb Internet is committed to environmental sustainability. What better way to showcase it than by sponsoring an amazing and unique bird that shares our name?

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

Display – The way that the male three-toed sloth presents itself to the female is also similar to the Superb Bird of Paradise. The sloth wears baggy trousers to avoid frightening the female away with his amazingly beautiful genitalia. (Continued below)