What do satin bowerbirds look like?
Both male and female satin bowerbirds have bright lilac-blue eyes, but here the similarities end. The mature male satin bowerbird is about 30 centimetres long, and his plumage is black with a glossy purple-blue sheen. Until he moults into this plumage during his seventh year, his plumage resembles that of the female.
The female is slightly smaller, and is coloured green, grey-green, dusky brown and dark brown. Her underbody is buff to cream, marked with dark olive-grey to dusky grey crescents.
How do they decorate their bowers?
The male's bower is an avenue of twigs and sticks, which he weaves into walls running in a north-south direction. He usually paints these walls with a mixture of charcoal and saliva.
Platforms at both ends of the avenue are decorated with mainly blue-coloured objects - including flowers, feathers, and berries. When there are humans nearby, the birds will also use plastic items such as clothes pegs.
What sort of environments do they live in?
The satin bowerbird lives in rainforests and the edges of drier forests on the coast and adjacent ranges of eastern Australia. It is found from Cooktown in Queensland to near Melbourne, in Victoria.
During autumn and winter, satin bowerbirds leave their forest habitat and move into open woodlands to forage for fruit, leaves and insects. However, with the arrival of the spring breeding season they collect together in small groups, inhabiting territories which they apparently occupy year after year. Each mature male bird protects and tends his own bower throughout the year.
What happens during the breeding season?
When courting, the male satin bowerbird prances and struts around his bower. He offers the female items from his collection of blue objects, while making a series of hissing, chattering and scolding noises. Mating takes place in the avenue of the bower, and the male may mate with several females in a single season.
Only the female builds a nest. This is a shallow, saucer-shaped construction of twigs and dry leaves, placed 10-15 m above the ground in the upright outer branches of a tree. The nest is lined with fine dry leaves. The female lays one to three eggs, which she incubates. She then raises the young on her own.
Page last updated: 15 April 2011