Encounter with a Satin Bowerbird

posted in: Courtship-Mating | 6

An earlier post on Australia’s bowerbirds attracted the attention of an Australian blogger who wrote in giving his link.

Dr CH Lee a.k.a. lchxian posted his encounter with a Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) on 5th November 2008.

“Apparently, the male Satin Bowerbird spends a lot of it’s time building this bower. The bower is not a nest. It is just purely for the purpose of attracting a female, copulation is supposed to happen between the walls of the bower.

“I was lucky to witness this female Satin Bowerbird checking out the bower, while the male satin bowerbird is away. Looking at this picture, I wander, if male Satin Bowerbirds chose blue coloured objects for decoration, as it is similar to the colour of the eyes of the Satin Bowerbird.

“This female Satin Bowerbird decided to pick up some of the blue caps, and did a runner… She flew off with the caps. But later returned with two blue caps. Not quite sure why she did it. Note another blue object in the bower.”

Dr Lee has a link to a male Satin Bowerbird that paid the ultimate price, his life, to impress the female. He died an agonisingly slow death, after a blue ring from the milk bottle that he collected, become caught around it’s neck and beak.

All images by Dr CH Lee.

6 Responses

  1. Bruce Ramsay

    Based on the streaky throat markings and particularly, the pale coloured bill and the greenish breast, I think this is more likely to be a 3rd or 4th year immature male rather than a female.

  2. CH LEE

    Thanks for your input Bruce… someone else said the same thing to me a few days ago. I shall get some input from the bird forum.

  3. Bruce Ramsay

    Sure. Always best to check as many sources as you can.

    I am not sure if you are aware that immature male Satin Bowerbirds have what are known as “practice” sub-bowers within a communal territory. They use these bowers to practice their building and display skills in readiness for the time when they become mature enough to maintain and defend a bower and to attract females to it. They are usually aggressively driven off if they approach the primary bower of a mature male.

    In my view, this “practising” also serves as an explanation for the “doing a runner” behaviour you described. However, rather than it being a female removing blue objects and then returning them it is my view that this was typical “thieving” behaviour which is exhibited by males – followed by typical “decorating” behaviour, also carried out by males. However, in the case of the bower you observed, the behaviours were being displayed by one (or maybe more)immature male birds, practising for the time when they would establish and maintain a primary bower which would attract females for mating.

    Hope this is some help.


Leave a Reply to YC Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.