In the last six weeks one of our Bowerbirds has produced not one, but two clutches of chicks. I was lucky enough to witness the saga right from the beginning.
For the first five years, male Bowerbirds are in their apprenticeship where they learn how to build a bower. These open twig baskets are usually highly decorated and females judge the male based on the quality of their bower. The male uses it as a stage to perform in front of. Our male’s routine was a mix of head boobing, vocalising and wing flashing!
Click on the above photo to see the album.
The male bird’s striking black and gold colouring doesn’t come through until they’re about five years of age. Their lack of colouring allows them to enter other males’ territories and observe and practice the art of bower building.
Without the colours they look exactly like a female and aren’t a perceived threat to the fully-fledged males. The only downside is that the mature males know that the training bowers are an easy source of decorations to upgrade their own stage, so the poor apprentices are continually having their goodies stolen!
Although the male goes to lots of effort to woo the female, it has absolutely no involvement in raising the young. Our female Bowerbird did all the nest building, incubation and completely reared the young with out help. This was great as these were the first clutches of eggs for this Bowerbird. The picture is of one of the chicks from the first clutch at about three weeks old. The chick kept its punk-rocker style for a couple of weeks, and now that this clutch has left the nest, the female has already hatched some more chicks that are just over a week old.
- Michele, Bird Keeper
Taronga Zoo, Media Relations
(02) 9978 4606
Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Media Relations
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