Bowerbirds and Bowers
Background on Bowerbirds
Bowerbirds comprise the bird family Ptilonorhynchidae. They occur across the Austro-Papuan region. They are unique among birds because the males build structures on the ground called bowers, which generally serve to attract females for breeding. They are a major component of the bowerbird males’ mating display, with better-constructed bowers often associated with increased reproductive success (Borgia 1996). These bowers are quite variable among species and are often highly decorated, making bowerbirds a fascinating group of birds to study. There are 20 species in total, which can be divided into several different categories.
White-eared catbird Spotted catbird Green catbird
Three species are polygynous and clear display courts, but do not build bowers (Borgia 1996). These are the tooth-billed catbird (Scenopoeetes dentirostris), the Archbold’s bowerbird (Archboldia papuensis), and the Sanford’s bowerbird (Archboldia sanfordi). Note: some consider the Sanford’s bowerbird to be a subspecies of the Archbold’s bowerbird.
Tooth-billed catbird Archbold’s/Sanford’s bowerbird
Nine species are polygynous, clear display courts, and build a type of bower known as an avenue bower (Borgia 1996). These are the spotted bowerbird (Chlamydera maculata), great bowerbird (Chlamydera nuchalis), satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus), regent bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus), flame bowerbird (Sericulus aureus), fire-maned bowerbird (Sericulus bakeri), yellow-breasted bowerbird (Chlamydera lauterbachi), Western bowerbird (Chlamydera guttata), and fawn-breasted bowerbird (Chlamydera cerviniventris).
Spotted bowerbird Great bowerbird Satin bowerbird
Regent bowerbird Flame bowerbird Fire-maned bowerbird
Yellow-breasted bowerbird Western bowerbird Fawn-breasted bowerbird
Some species are polygynous, clear display courts, and build a type bower known as a maypole bower (Borgia 1996).These are the golden bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana), the MacGregor’s bowerbird (Amblyornis macgregoriae), Vogelkop bowerbird (Amblyornis inornata), streaked bowerbird (Amblyornis subalaris), and the golden-fronted bowerbird (Amblyornis flavifrons).
Golden bowerbird Macgregor’s bowerbird Vogelkop bowerbird
Streaked bowerbird Golden-fronted bowerbird