A satin bowerbird has built its bower in a garden bed under one of our bedroom windows. It is partially hidden by an abutilon and a border of clivias, but clearly visible from inside our house.
The male bird has spread out his collection of blue objects and regularly performs strutting dances in and around the bower, which is made of sticks. As well as the blue collection he has added long pieces of straw (filched I think from next door’s horse feed). The yellowy colour of the straw highlights the blue of his collection. The collection of blue objects is mainly dark blue plastic milk tops, which I’ve put out for him (after carefully removing the ring at the base of the top).
The female bird (or it may be birds) visits, stands in the bower and watches him as he dances, sings his strange mechanical sounding songs and rearranges his collection of objects. He often picks up a blue item with several of the pieces of yellow straw, exhibits it, and then puts it down again. Sometimes the female picks up some of the ornaments as well and even rearranges them. It is fascinating to watch the courtship.
Recently we looked out to see the bower trampled. I was worried the dogs had run through it and knocked it to pieces. The damage was soon rebuilt, but I was still concerned.
This morning however we watched a young male bowerbird arrive in the bower. After a few minutes he started tearing down the bower! When we realised what was happening we shooed him away but already a lot of damage was done. At first we thought he was a female (immature males and females are both green) but he did have signs of darker plumage and was obviously hoping to put a spoke in this guy’s courtship plans.
After a while the resident bird arrived back for a day of singing and dancing and looked quite shocked to see the damage. He quickly pulled himself together and began repairing the trashed bower and reusing the pieces the interloper had torn down and thrown aside.
Here’s a video I took of him rebuilding the bower soon after the destruction occurred. He started on one side and then worked on the other side.
After quite a few hours of constant work the bower is almost completely repaired. He is still making some final adjustments, but here’s a shot of the rebuild.
Satin bowerbirds are native to the east and south-east coasts of Australia. They are certainly plentiful here in the lower Blue Mountains as we’ve had bowers here and also beside our lane way as well as in the garden in our previous house in Kurrajong. I have never before been able to observe the bower so closely however.
In reading up about these native birds I’ve learnt that the glossy black blue plumage this bird exhibits doesn’t develop fully until the bird is seven. The males begin to colour at about five. So our bird is more than seven years old and the interloper about five. I wonder if the interloper has his own bower near by – it is quite likely! Meanwhile, the turf wars continue.