Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Spotted Bowerbird
Chlamydera maculata
(Viewing 4 of 10 photos)

Click to listen to sound samples Spotted Bowerbirds are the bowerbirds of inland eastern Australia. They range throughout the drier woodlands and shrublands of Queensland and NSW from about 20 degrees Lat. south almost to the Murray River. They do not normally occur in S.A. and are now regarded as extinct in Victoria. They associate freely with people and are a familiar sight around inland homesteads where their excellent ability as a mimic is well known. Their reputation as a thief is also well known - all sorts of shiny objects including jewellery that go missing can finish up as decorations for their bowers. They are also not popular with fruit-growers in the outback - in particular, orchardists growing oranges along the Darling River suffer significant damage from flocks of Spotted Bowerbirds that move out of the scrub and gather during the winter. In the wild the normal diet consists of native fruits, flowers and seed and a variety of insects and other arthropods.

Bowers are well protected by overhanging foliage such as under a Wilga or an introduced Peppertree, usually in a spot that catches the morning sun. Each year, a new bower is built close to the old one and in the same traditional site - up to 16 years in the one spot is known. Spotted Bowerbirds tend to use grass as well as sticks in the walls of their bowers, and masticated grass mixed with saliva is used to paint the inside walls (see pic 680208D). As well as bleached shells and bones, they collect a variety of shiny or coloured objects but not blue (see pic 680205D). In the picture 680003 that male had collected seven different calibres of shells amongst his trinkets. He had also placed placed fresh green berries inside the bower. Males carry out extraordinary displays around their bowers and evenually mate with several females. Their bowing and fanning the nape plumes and hopping and strutting can be almost comical to watch, especially when they get up onto tiptoe.


Photo: 680002

680002

Photo: 680003

680003 ... Spotted Bowerbird, male at bower.

Photo: 680202

680202

Photo: 680205-D

680205-D ... Green, violet, red and white are all favoured colours, but not blue. Blue objects placed near a bower will be discarded.


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