Following on with our rainforest series on birds found in Lamington Mountain National Park, we can not ignore the beautiful and amazing Bowerbird family. One can see three types of bowerbird here, and you will never see so many in one place at the same time as at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. The stunning Regent Bowerbird is best appreciated here, and is the logo for O’Reilly’s, appearing also on their carpet and bedding among other places.
You really have to see this bird to appreciate its stunning colours, especially when it flies. The three kinds of Bowerbird found here are the Regent and Satin Bowerbird and the Green Catbird which is actually a member of the Bowerbird family having its own unique characteristics, similar but different from the other two, which I will not go into great detail in this post. The reason they called bowerbirds is because the males build a beautifully constructed bower to attract and woo the female(s) so he can mate. All are endemic to the east coast of mainland Australia, especially the mid to north coast rainforests
The bowers of the Satin Bowerbird is seen above, there are many around O’Reilly’s and the males spend most of their time mending and maintaining their bowers, fixing the grass in the bower, searching for blue objects, or stealing them from other bowers nearby. While he is out stealing, another may be stealing from him. After he mates with the females, it is they who build the nest and raise their young alone, as he tends his bower. Yes he stands each blade of dead grass and shapes them to form his bower, he is quite the artistisan, and one’s bower must be at its best if one wants to attract the best sorts.
These trinkets of blue attract the female, as does his beautiful iridescent blue plumage. His aim is to attract the female to walk into and stand in his bower. When she does this, he will sing and dance in front of her with joy because she has accepted his love offerings, and afterwards he will mate with her.
As you can see there is a large difference between the male and female plumage in both the Satin and Regent Bowerbirds, The immature resemble the females until they mature, similar to many bird species. Notice the beautiful violet-blue of the male eye and the white beak. The unlearned sometimes confuse it with the Eastern Koel which looks similar but is black, has a white beak also, but a bright red eye.
I captured this female Satin Bowerbird having a stand off with the more dominant male King Parrot.
Here is an idea of the call of the female Satin Bowerbird. You can usually hear their zitting sound and mimickry but often they are hidden high in the tree canopy, usually a native fig tree, where they mainly feed. Bowerbirds like most passerine rainforest birds are fruit eaters.
The Regent Bowerbird on the other hand is not so welcoming when it comes to showing off his bower, in fact he is so secretive about his bower that if he knows you have seen it, he will totally dismantle it within the hour and rebuild elsewhere. The alpha male or breeding male is depicted with a red patch on its head as you can see below, and he may attract several females at a time and breed with all of them. The female has a black patch on her head and again the female does the nesting and child care work, and likewise the juveniles look just like mum till they mature. The male builds a bower with a corridor of sticks and similar to the Satin Bowerbird spends much of his day guarding, maintaining and collecting items for his bower including forest fruits and plastic objects, He will rob from and destroy rival bowers nearby as well.
We also noticed this immature male starting to change plumage to his adult form with his head first.
One of the features at O’Reilly’s is to feed the Regents from your hand as Glen Davis our personal guide and well known nature documentary film maker demonstrated. We were very blessed to have him come all the way up the mountain on his birthday to take us out.
But the the photos that most photographers want are the Regent male flight shots. This bird has a very rapid flight, which makes it challenging to photograph, especially in rainforest or at close range, but this is my effort.
Lastly the mysterious elusive Green Catbird, who is very skillful in camouflage, but very curious and will spy on you and follow you without you ever knowing. It usually dwells concealed high in the canopy. It also is a fruit eater, and uses the fruits it collects and places on an alter it constructs in a place where the light shines onto the ground through a break in the canopy. Here he will wait and be ready to offer his fruits to a willing female. If she accepts his offer he will mate with her. His concept of a bower is much simpler.
The female Satin Bowerbird is sometimes mistaken for this bird, but the sound of the bird gives it away. Early settlers would be quite alarmed when they first came into the forests, thinking a baby or woman was in distress, and would send out search parties to find them, but of no avail. Soon they realised it was a bird, Listen to this we heard it day and night in the rainforest.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in our rainforest series. You may like to review my post last year on the Great Bowerbird seen in Broome WA, which collects white objects to attract its mate. It is toward the end of this post.
It takes a lot of trust for a wild bird to land on the human arm or feed from the human hand, trust which has been developed over time with certain individuals. The birds know who are their friends, by the kind and generous offerings of food made to them, without any intent to harm. This is how God is to us, kind and generous, loving us continually, but are we aware enough of his good intent, to trust him, and reap the peace and security that comes from trusting him with our life?
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” – Joel 2:13
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. – John 3:16,17
Check out the new addition to my Home Page called Something Special which highlights some local findings that my wife and I have found.
Have a wonderful week and enjoy the birds!