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Fast Facts: Bowerbirds

by AMNH on

On Exhibit posts

13b. Bowerbird
Bowerbirds take their name from the extravagantly decorated bowers they use to attract mates.
©AMNH/R. Mickens

Lots of species will go all out to land a mate, but few courtship routines are as elaborate as that of the bowerbird. These birds craft nest-like structures, known as bowers, and decorate them with attention-getting items. Females tour many of these local bowers, assessing both structure and suitor before selecting a mate.

  • Male satin bowerbirds festoon the front terraces of their bowers with shiny or colored objects, preferring those of a vivid blue hue.  
  • Bowerbirds don’t discriminate when hunting for objects to add to their bowers, displaying natural treasures like fresh flowers, feathers, and cicada wings alongside objects like ballpoint pen lids and bottlecaps. 
  • Decorating a bower doesn’t end at displaying objects. Some satin bowerbirds mix plant material with saliva to make a “paint” they spread over their bower walls.
  • Competition for bower decorations is fierce, and male bowerbirds will steal desirable trinkets from other bowers to improve their own.
  • If a female admires a bower, she enters it, but the mating ritual isn’t over. The male then proceeds to perform a dance while holding a favorite trinket in his beak.

Find out more about bowerbirds and their mating rituals in Life at the Limits: Stories of Amazing Species.