This is what the bower of a satin bowerbird looks like (below right), with its collection of predominantly blue ‘treasures ‘, assembled to impress the ladies. I’m afraid the birds mostly use human trash these day, especially bottle tops. Bowers were full of plastic straws in my village of Blackheath until they were banned two years ago. In the old days blue berries, native flowers and bird feathers were gathered.
The bowers are built and maintained by the mature, glossy black male when it reaches the age of about seven.
Meanwhile, the juvenile male birds practice bower building, providing me with great entertainment. The plumage of the juveniles, like the females, is nothing like the glossy black adult males. They also have a blue, rather than a violet eye.
Here is male bird well along the way to attaining his blue/black plumage. He must be 5 or 6 years old.
The site chosen for the ‘apprentice piece’ this year was behind a large Olearia shrub, in the top corner of my Blue Mountains garden. Very private, so a good choice for a beginner..
I noticed the young male busily carrying sticks, mostly filched from the mulch I’d used on the woodland paths. He didn’t seem to get the design quite right, but did his best.
Our resident Master Builder was clearly not impressed.
The apprentice decided that decoration might compensate for poor design.
Unfortunately the old Master Builder kept stealing the sticks…..and also the milk bottle tops. For days there was a cycle of construction and destruction. That young bowerbird never gave up, but neither did he ever achieve his goal of a ‘proper’ bower. It was hopeless. The tiny blue flowers of Lithodora he stole from me simply shriveled up and disappeared.
All in all it was remarkable spring of intensive training.
Maybe next year he will do even better.
UPDATE – JULY 31 2018
The 2nd year apprentice has made an early start. Good luck Mate…..but it’s blue you want, not yellow. And not my flowers!
All I can say is, keep at it. I’ve supplied some material.
As a test one day I put out a large peanut butter lid, And yes, in heavy rain it was moved about 50 metres to the bower. What a feat. Perhaps this is explained by the enthusiasm of youth.
UPDATE! – Wow, that lid has inspired him. The best effort yet.