Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Satin Bowerbird and Bower

My friend George has a friendly Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) which has conveniently built a Bower in George's front yard. It presumably regards George as living in its own Back Yard. Here a link to a story of one which lives in my backyard, and likes apples.

Anyway, the bird was sitting high in a tree, having a bit of a scratch, when I turned up for a visit with George this morning. (If you click to enlarge the image, you can see that the bird is standing on its left leg, and the right leg is just visible over its right wing, below its neck.) There was a Brown Cuckoo-dove (a native berry-eating Dove, a rainforest specialist) sitting just a little higher in the same tree.

Here is a close-up of the Bower, decorated mostly with blue objects. The whole structure and the toys are used for an elaborate courtship display for which these birds are famous. It shows the oval shaped display area and the typical slightly closed over structure of the walls of the Bower.
A close examination of the Bower shows that the walls are built using the spiny stems of the Tree Violet (Melicytus dentatus) (My Blogging colleague Duncan who gets Tree Violets in his area of Gippsland will no doubt be distressed that the taxonomists have changed the name from the old name of Hymenanthera dentata!) Click to enlarge the image and examine the left hand wall structure closely. There are fine spines (visible as spines at right angles to the line of the twigs) on many of these twigs, especially on the thick wall on the left. They are the spiny stems of the Tree Violet (stems now dry). There are also several spiny stems clearly visible over the open middle of the bower. They are also from the Tree Violet.
Note the "toys" which the Bowerbird uses to decorate his Bower, with which to impress the females. There are blue straws, a blue plastic clothes peg, a blue milk bottle top, and the white patch to the left is a dried piece of onion skin.
Close up of the collection of Bowerbird "toys".
Including a brown snail shell, onion skin, as well as blue plastic objects.
In this image you can observe that the flat surrounding area outside the Bower is heavily layered with shafts of straw which the bird has collected from nearby garden mulch, and several silvery leaves of various rainforest plants, and more blue plastic objects and the Bowerbird's most beloved blue tail-feathers from Crimson Rosellas.

6 comments:

mick said...

Very interesting photos and description of the bower. Any chance of seeing the bird at the bower or are they too shy to be there when people are around?

Elephant's Eye said...

Poor birds, got to decorate his bower with our discarded plastic rubbish. He is maybe trying to tell us to clean up?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
.
I would love to help myself, but I do nop0t have the patience, and the equipment ("bird hide" etc).
But I did post two links to videos of birds displaying.
See the two hyperlinks in the paragraph above the second image. Look for "courtship display" and "famous".
Cheers
Denis

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Elephant's Eye
Welcome from South Africa.
I prefer to think that this bird is recycling our waste and using it to attract the Ladies. That's putting it to good use.
Thanks for visiting.
Cheers
Denis

Miss Eagle said...

Beautiful photos, Denis!

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Miss Eagle
.
I have been meaning to photograph a Bower for some time.
.
Fascinating birds.
The artistry is all theirs, not mine.
.
Cheers
Dneis