Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Satin Bowerbird's Bower

My friend Joan Freere rang me this morning to tell me about a Satin Bowerbird's bower which she found in the Robertson Nature Reserve this morning. Joan was in there, doing some weeding, as a volunteer, to help maintain the Nature Reserve in good condition.
My brother, Brendan, and I went in at lunchtime, and Brendan took the following snaps.

Bower as first approached.
Look for the blue "decorations".
The Bower is just to the left of the blue items.
(click to enlarge image)
A slightly closer shot.
Here you can clearly see the decorations are in front of the "Bower".
Blue decorations include the Bowerbird's favourite,
the blue tail feathers of Crimson Rosellas.
This Bower also has some Rosella wing feathers,
which show some light blue colour.

(Rosella wing "flight feathers" are more curved than tail feathers).
There are also some pieces of blue plastic (which they also love).


Here is a straight-on photo of the Bower itself.
(Click to enlarge).
The "U-shaped" structure has two tall sides, and
the central part of the Bower is a flattened "floor".
The sides are curved upwards and over,
nearly, but not quite, meeting over the top.

Another feature of this Bower is that
there are many fruit of a local plant,

the blue-flowered Solanum pungetium, placed in the bower.
But the fruit are green, not blue.
Hmm, interesting, but a bit of a puzzle.
These rounded fruits are clearly visible on the ground
in the very foreground of this image.
(You need to have enlarged the image to see them.)


And just to remind you about the amazing "Blue Bird" itself
here is one of many shots I was able to take yesterday at home,
looking out from a partially opened back door.
The male Bowerbird is generally pretty nervous,
but yesterday, he was showing off, particularly to one female.
Here he is on the feeder, near an orange.

It is worth clicking on this image, to see it better.
Just about everything about this amazing bird is blue.
His eye is violet blue, (with red veining)
and in this particular shot you can see he has
a bright blue ring around his eye.

You can see the amazing sheen on his feathers.
He is so "reflective" that he generally looks shiny black.

The yellow background colour comes from some wattles in the far distance.


Post Script:
Brendan took with him several pieces of blue plastic, as a "test".
He left them on the ground
some 30 metres distant from the bower.

We walked away, and came back some 15 minutes later.
Both blue objects had been collected by the male Bowerbird
and placed amongst his other decorations
in the front of his bower.

One was a small blue bottle cap,
the other a flat piece of blue plastic.

The photos were taken first,
so those objects are not in the photos above.

I find it amazing that the Bowerbird is so "alert"
to new blue objects in his "territory"

that he immediately collected these "new" blue objects
and placed them within his bower, within just a few minutes.

I would remind you that the
habitat in the Nature Reserve
is very dense vegetation -
tall trees and vines, with dense shrubbery.

The two blue objects Brendan left there

were not placed close to the bower,
well, not in line of sight from the bower, anyway.


mick said...

Great shots of the bower and all the articles around it. I wonder what it is about the blue color that the bird finds so attractive? A beautiful visitor for your fruit feeding table!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
There has been a fair bit of study of Bowerbirds, but I have never heard a simple explanation of why they are so fixated on blue objects.
Different species have different obsessions. Some collect white objects including old snail shells.
Some build more complex bowers.
There was a feature in the recent David Attenborough "Life" series on a New Guinea species which builds a completely covered bower (like a small cave).
Amazing birds.
They are very common here, and they dominate at the Feed Table, only giving way to Currawongs. But there are more Bowerbirds, so they win eventually.
Hope your knees are on the mend. :-))

Le Loup said...

Lovely, great find and great pics. Well done.

Wilma said...

How wonderful for you and your brother to be able to see and photograph the bower in person, not to mention conributing to the decoration! Very cool stuff, Denis. Your photo of the male is stunning.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks to both Le Loup and Wilma.
The male is my clearest photo yet.
Very hard to photograph. Has to be in full sun to get any colour at all. Otherwise it just looks black.
Then they are such fast movers, really hard to get them standing still.
Constant struggle to get the right shot.

Anonymous said...

Yes it was certainly worthwhile enlarging the photo of the Satin BB - what a great shot! The contrast between the orange and the violet in the eye is fabulous. Well done Denis!

catmint said...

Hi Denis, I have read about bowerbirds but never actually seen the bower or the bird before. Your photos are so clear that I feel priveleged and excited to see them. The way they go for blue is fascinating. Thanks for another grreat post. cm