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Bird Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)


Mors Kochanski
Sep 7, 2011
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Common Name: Satin Bowerbird

Scientific Name: Ptilonorhynchus violaceus

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Ptilonorhynchidae

Distribution: Eastern Australia from southern Queensland to Victoria. There is also an isolated population in the Wet Tropics of north Queensland.

Habitat: Prefer the wetter forests and woodlands, and nearby open areas, although those around the Atherton Tableland in north QLD are largely rainforest inhabitants.

Field Notes: Satin Bowerbirds are medium-sized birds. The adult male has striking glossy blue-black plumage, a pale bluish white bill and a violet-blue iris. Younger males and females are similar in colour to each other, and are collectively referred to as 'green' birds. They are olive-green above, off-white with dark scalloping below and have brown wings and tail. The bill is browner in colour. Young males may begin to acquire their adult plumage in their fifth year and are not fully 'attired' until they are seven.

Prior to mating, the male satin bowerbird goes to great pains to build a bower. This is a purely decorative structure made from twigs and grass. The male decorates the bower with pebbles, snail shells, blue parrot feathers and human rubbish such as strips of blue plastic and bottle tops. The satin bowerbird is also well known for thieving blue plastic pegs from washing lines. Interestingly, experiments have been conducted where researchers have replaced blue items in the bower with red ones. Typically, the male bowerbird will immediately pick up the offending item and carry it as far away as possible. The male bowerbird is also an artist - quite literally. Shredding and feathering the end of of a strip of bark, they will crush charcoal and mix it with saliva, using the bark to daub the interior walls of their bower with the resulting "paint". They have also been known to do the same with various fruits, crushing them and painting the walls of the bower with the juice, which goes black from smut.

Once the bower is built, the male goes in seek of a mate. At time of writing (early December 2011) the mating calls of the male and female satin bowerbirds continue from before dawn till just after dusk.

Once he is able to entice a female to his bower, the male will put on a wing display and will mimic various other birds. It is thought that the female will choose her mate based on the vocal mimicry alone. While the female will only mate with a single male each season, the male will attempt to mate with as many females as possible.

Once the mating has taken place, the male's involvement ends. The female builds a rough nest and looks after the eggs and the chicks solo.

Satin Bowerbirds feed mostly on fruits throughout the year. During summer (breeding) the diet is supplemented with a large number of insects, while leaves are often eaten during the winter months.






Female showing camouflage against tree


Stolen blue peg found out in the middle of nowhere on a recent jaunt. Prime suspect: Satin bowerbird.


http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/29889734?searchTerm=satin bowerbird&searchLimits=


Never Alone In The Bush
Staff member
Jun 16, 2011
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Melbourne, Victoria
Walking through the bush a few years back, not too far from a popular camping area and I was disgusted to see a pile of rubbish thrown in the bush. After a minute I realized that all the bits of plastic were blue, and there was a bower just behind the debris.

The birds like to make a “runway” of blue objects in front of the bower.

Bottle tops, pen lids, bits of plastic wrap and blue feathers were amongst the items.


Henry Arthur Readford
May 23, 2011
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This taken from NineMSN technolgy news
Another first for Australias uniquie Fauna.

Birds 'inadvertently grow flowers'

12:36 AEDT Mon Apr 23 2012

Giving floral gifts to a loved one is a tried-and-tested romantic gesture.

Now British scientists have revealed that bowerbirds in Queensland have been growing flowers in an effort to attract mates.

Researchers, including academics from Britain's University of Exeter, have found high numbers of potato bush plants near the homes of bowerbirds in Australia.

They believe the birds are unintentionally growing the brightly coloured plants by gathering them close to a site of habitation.

The birds are known for their unique courtship behaviour, where males collect sticks and objects to build a structure called a bower to catch the attention of females.

It is the first evidence of a non-human species growing plants for a use other than food, the scientists said.

Lead researcher Dr Joah Madden said: "We grow plants for all kinds of things, from drugs to clothing to props, that we use in our sexual displays such as roses. But it seems we are not unique in this respect.

"We do not believe bowerbirds are intentionally growing these plants, but this accumulation of preferred objects close to a site of habitation is arguably the way any cultivation begins.

"It will be very interesting to see how this mutually beneficial relationship between bowerbirds and these plants develops."

The research team carried out their observations in Taunton National Park in central Queensland, Australia.

Bowerbirds are native to Australia and Papua New Guinea.


John McDouall Stuart
Jul 2, 2011
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Wide Bay, QLD
Great photos Chutes. I still have to see this one. May have to take a trip to the Bunya Mts, great find Hairy.


Lofty Wiseman
Jun 25, 2012
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Rockingham WA
We also have a bower bird in the eastern goldfields of WA.The ones we have come across have usually used green quondong nuts and bleached white bones plus weathered glass to decorate the bower.They will also pinch our blue pegs if the girls leave them out plus they will take the blue caps from milk bottles if we set one up for them.They seem to know where every thing is placed as we have tried shifting one thing and coming back it is put back in its original place.There mimicry is brilliant as we have heard crying babies,car doors and dogs barking when we know we are the only people around for miles.