Great Bowerbird

This is a Great Bowerbird, one of twenty species of Bowerbirds.  All bowerbirds, except for catbirds, which don’t make bowers, are found only in Australia and New Guinea.  The building of bowers solely for the purpose of attracting a mate is what makes these birds so unique.  They will use twigs and assorted “decorations” that they find lying around to add to their bowers.  A female will chose a mate based on the impressiveness of his bower and how well he shows it off by presenting various decorations to her and showing off his plumage.  This is a picture of one of the bowers found on my campus:

This is what is considered to be an avenue bower because of the pathway made by the walls of twigs.  Many bowerbirds will also have a certain color preference for the toys it brings to its bower.  This particular bowerbird seemed to be partial to red and pink, in addition to white stones.  While the Great Bowerbird is not very flashy in its coloration, it makes up for this in its construction of its bower.  Bowers are not nests, just decoration.  When a female is intrigued enough to come closer, the male bowerbird will begin performing a courting dance making almost a short rattling sound.  He will also sometimes flash the back of his head to her, where his crest is.  Great Bowerbirds have one of the less showy crests but as you can barely see in this picture, the purple feathers are present.

I was lucky enough to be on a campus that had a good number of Great Bowerbird bowers scattered around campus and, on multiple occasions, was able to see the males performing courtship behaviors for the females.  We even had a juvenile bower that was maintained by multiple juvenile males as practice.  Bowerbirds are definitely one of the main things that I miss from Australia.  They are just so representative of just how interesting the wildlife in other parts of the world can be.

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