Friday, June 23, 2017

Bowerbirds - Architects & Decorators

There are some who doubt that animals have any aesthetic sense.  Those people are narrow-minded, and certainly have never met a Bowerbird.

Satin bowerbird (credit: BBC)

I have seen dogs enjoy sunsets, sitting quietly and watching until the solar disc slips below the horizon.  A few more moments and they rise, stretch, shake and move on to the next thing or situation of interest.

Some dogs have more interest than others, and sadly, the micro-managed, treat-stuffed, febrile "fur baby" least of all.  But dogs who have not been treated and spoken to as if they were addle-pated toddlers will sometimes show an appreciation of an aesthetic nature. 

If you have ever watched the bliss and ecstasy of a dog rolling on a dead seagull or some nameless pile of foul excrement, (foul to you and me - but to the dog...) you will have seen this rapture.

 Ah! The joy of a dead gopher!  Photo: Geonni Banner

But enough about dogs. This is about the Bowerbird.

Bowerbirds - male Bowerbirds - build structures and decorate them.  When they're finished they wait for a lady fair.  When she turns up he does performance art.

Hair-Tie The mating game, phase two: The male Great Bowerbird's tour de force is to fling the red hair tie into the air. Later he'll retrieve it for future use. Photo: Tim Laman
The Satin Bowerbird is sexually dimorphic.  The males are a resplendent, glossy blue-black,  the females of the species are a less flashy medley of shades of brown.

Like all the Bowerbirds, the Satin Bowerbird builds a bower.  Make no mistake.  This is no nest.  It is a stage.  A performance space.  It's his.   A suitable nest will be constructed concurrently in a safe place above the ground, by a female.  The nest becomes tenanted and receives eggs only after the bower and its architect have been deemed worthy and the relationship consummated.

Here is one such nest - of a Satin Bowerbird pair.  Next come chicks...  which will look something like the frowsy specimen below.  (Photos of the nest and chick are by Pauline Conolly)

"The  indigenous Wiradguri  people know  the birds as ngurum-bula, meaning ‘two homes’ – a bower  of sticks built by the adult male and a separate nest (a marrung) for the female’s eggs  My thanks to Adam Gowen for this information. The nest is also built of sticks, and located in a nearby tree. There are usually two eggs, which are cream, speckled with brown."  source

 But back to the bower. Here's a bower to beat all bowers.  This bird is channeling Andrew Goldsworthy.  Wow!

Like all bowers, a great bowerbird's twiggy avenue is used only for courtship and not as a nest. The outer pile of stones is the stage for his theatrics once an admirer is lured within.This is the bower of a Great Bowerbird - Chlamydera nuchalis  Photo: Tim Laman

Wait 'till the lady bowerbird sees this one!  Other bowerbirds have different-looking structures.  Satin Bowerbirds seem partial to blue things - which usually means plastic, feathers or flowers, blue being rather scarce in nature.

Left: Spotted Bowerbird egg  photo by: Davidgregsmith 
Right: female Satin Bowerbird photo by: benjamint444
Don't it make her brown eyes blue? She's at a loss for words.  Soon there will be eggs (and pretty eggs they are, too.) and then hatchlings.

Below are an assortment of other bowers.  Unfortunately the site where I found these didn't bother to credit the species or the photographers. But I think most, if not all of them were shot by Tim Laman.  Check out his galleries HERE.

Last, here's a couple of Bowerbirds, photos from Wikipedia

 A female Satin Bowerbird in Bunya Mountains National Park, Queensland, Australia. - photo: Tatiana Gerus

The Spotted Bowerbird. At 29 cm in length, Spotted Bowerbirds are intermediate in size among the bowerbirds, but are rather slim and compact. Spotted Bowerbirds are sexually monomorphic, - photo Davidgregsmith

Orange flame bowerbird (credit: BBC)  A male orange flame bowerbird (Sericulus aureus), whilst performing his dance, produces wheezing calls from his throat and pulses his pupil size in an effort to seduce a female. Papua New Guinea.

Life - The Vogelkop Bowerbird: Nature's Great Seducer - BBC One

About the programme:
A lesson in seduction from the Barry White of the bird world. The male Vogelkop bowerbird is a master of attracting a mate and getting her in the mood for love.

The Bowerbird's Grand Performance! - Life Story - BBC

The Bowerbird puts on a show to impress the female but will it be good enough? Taken from Life Story.

Bird Seduction Techniques - Life Story - BBC

Some birds use a bit of creativity and a slight performance for their own seduction techniques. Taken from Life Story.

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