The greater bird-of-paradise is the largest member in the genus Paradisaea, with males measuring up to 43 cm (17 in) (excluding the long twin tail wires). The female is smaller, at only 35 cm (14 in). The plumage of this species is also sexually dimorphic.
The male has an iridescent green face and a yellow glossed with silver iridescence crown, head and nape. The rest of the body plumage is maroon-brown. The flank plumes, used in displays, are yellow at the base, turning white and streaked with maroon. The female has unbarred maroon brown plumage. In both sexes the iris is yellow and the bills blue.
The greater bird-of-paradise is distributed to lowland and hill forests of southwest New Guinea and Aru Islands, Indonesia. The diet consists mainly of fruits, seeds and small insects.