Birds are some of the most fascinating creatures in the animal kingdom. Some put on the most startling but beautiful external display’s with their feathers, others have distinctive mating calls, and some are known for their elaborate nests. Deep in the forests of Australia and New Guinea is an extraordinary bird: The Bowerbird. The king of courtship, this bird is known primarily for their decorative features on their nests used to attract females. They are named after the bowers, or nests they build in which they layer with colourful objects. These magical birds simply iconic, they are exhibitionists and certainly want everyone else to know it. Here are some of the different types of bowerbirds:
A Great Bowerbird
Resident of northern Australia, its natural habitat is a range of forest and woodland, monsoon forest and mangrove swamps. Females raise their young alone while the males spend their time building, maintaining and displaying from their bowers. The bower is very important, as only a male with a flourishing bower can attract a mate. You can often find their bowers littered with blue objects or white pebbles.
A Male Golden-fronted Bowerbird
Male Golden-fronted Bowerbirds
This long, brown bowerbird has an elongated golden crest extending from a golden forehead and yellow underparts. This bird remained somewhat of a mystery for nearly a hundred years from 1995 when it was originally described, until 31 January 1981 when it’s home ground was discovered at the Foja mountains in Indonesia. At its bower (nest), it gives loud vocalisations to flaunt its nest.
A Male Satin Bowerbird
Male Satin Bowerbirds
A male satin bowerbird has a stunning glossy blue-black plumage, a violet-blue iris and a pale blue/white bill. Commonly, they are referred to as ‘green’ birds and prefer wet forests and woodlands in locations such as the eastern and south-eastern coast of Australia. Their bower consists of two parallel walls of sticks built from the ground. The Satin Bowerbird also prefers blue items, and has collected blue clothes pegs, drinking straws and bottle tops among other objects such as bright blue parrot feathers and brown snail shells. This bird has perfected a ritual of strutting and bowing with its wings outstretched, practicing exaggerated movements and buzzing and rattling mating calls.
A Male Regent Bowerbird
Male Regent Bowerbirds
Small and slim with a long, slender bill, this bird is highly recognisable by its bright gold head, nape and wings. An inhabitant of south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales, this bird loves forests, particularly rainforests and densely treed gullies. Their nest is a shallow saucer of leaves, twigs and leaves, often placed in a clump of mistletoe. They are known in particular to mix a muddy greyish blue or pea green saliva to paint their bowers. Sometimes, they will use wads of greenish leaves as paintbrushes to spread the substance, a rarity, as birds aren’t usually known to use tools.
The Vogelkop bowerbird’s name refers to its lack of bright plumage. It is mainly a brown colour, with its upper parts being of a brownish-olive/cinnamon brown colour. The Vogelkop creates a hut-like structure for a bower, which is built around a central sapling tree trunk. Its roof is made out of epiphytic orchid stems, and the central pole of the bower is covered in moss, and then decorated with piles of brightly coloured fruits and flowers, pieces of charcoal and insect exoskeletons. This breed of bird has been sighted to prefer red, blue-black and orange coloured items.
These fascinating birds will continue to dance to females in order to attract them, and we will be here to witness their extraordinarily complex courtship and mating behaviour, and their remarkable bowers.
Second Picture © Tim Laman