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Bowerbird Info

written by: Diana Cooper•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 4/6/2010

Some believe the bowerbird to be the most advanced bird of all species because of their complex mating behavior. Find interesting info about the "bachelor pad", the bowerbird nest, and their remarkable mating behavior.

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    Bowerbird

    Golden Bowerbird: male (top) and female Info on the bowerbird:

    The bowerbird (and catbird) belongs to the family Ptilonorhynchidae which has 20 species in 8 genera.

    These medium-sized birds range from about 9-16 inches in length and 2.5-8 ounces in weight.

    Most bowerbirds reside in the tropical regions of northern Australia and New Guinea, a large island just north of Australia. However, some species can be found in the central, western, and southeastern parts of Australia. Habitats vary, including rainforests and shrublands.

    The diet of the bowerbird mainly consists of fruits but may also include nectar, flowers, leaves, and insects.

    Bowerbirds are sexually dimorphic, meaning the male and female differ in external characteristics. The males are colorful whereas the females are drab in color.

    Many bowerbirds are outstanding vocal mimics. Some species can imitate human chatter, waterfalls, and pigs.

    Unlike the catbirds within the Ptilonorhynchidae family, male bowerbirds do not participate in the nest building or in the raising of the young. The female uses soft materials, such as ferns, leaves, and vine tendrils to build the nest. She will lay 1-2 eggs which will hatch in 19-24 days.

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    Mating Behavior

    Bachelor Pad (not a bowerbird nest) 

    Info on the bowerbird's mating behavior:

    Because of their mating behavior, bowerbirds are believed by some researchers to be the most advanced species of all birds.

    The male bowerbirds will build a bower, a "bachelor pad", to attract mates (click on image to enlarge). Bowers differ, depending on the species. It is a circle of cleared earth and can consist of a small pile of twigs in the middle or of a more complex structure made of sticks and leaves, resembling a small hut. The male bowerbird will decorate the bower by placing brightly colored objects in and around it. He will spend hours arranging up to hundreds of objects which can include flowers, feathers, shells, stones, berries, coins, discarded plastic items, and pieces of glass. They are placed in a specific spot and if one was to be moved out of place while he is gone, he will put it back where it belonged when he returns.

    The female bowerbird will go to multiple bowers and inspect the quality of each one while the male bowerbird struts and sings. If she is impressed, mating will take place in the bower. Afterwards, she will take off to build a nest nearby to lay her eggs while the male will try to impress another female. Experienced males may mate with many other females in one season whereas under-performing males are often left without mates. The female bowerbird often returns to the same male the next year.

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    Photo Credit

    Golden Bowerbird picture in the public domain.

    Bower Bird Nest (bachelor pad) picture courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/44609755@N00/3060439129/.