Fawn-breasted Bowerbird at Zoo Miami

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird (Chlamydera cerviniventris) Zoo Miami by Lee

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird (Chlamydera cerviniventris) Zoo Miami by Lee

One of the neatest thing to watch on this last trip to the Wings of Asia Aviary at Zoo Miami was the Fawn-breasted Bowerbird working on his bower. “The bower itself is that of “avenue-type” with two sides of wall of sticks and usually decorated with green-colored berries.” In his case, he had green leaves laid out in front.

The Fawn-breasted Bowerbird (Chlamydera cerviniventris) is a medium-sized, up to 13 in (32 cm) long, bowerbird with a greyish brown spotted white plumage, a black bill, dark brown iris, yellow mouth and an orange buff below. Both sexes are similar. The female is slightly smaller than the male.

The Fawn-breasted Bowerbird is distributed in New Guinea and northern Australia, where it inhabits the tropical forests, mangroves, savanna woodlands and forest edges. Its diet consists mainly of figs, fruits and insects. The nest is a loose cup made of small sticks up in a tree. The bower itself is that of “avenue-type” with two sides of wall of sticks and usually decorated with green-colored berries. (Wikipedia with editing)

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird by Dan ZM

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird by Dan ZM

The Bowerbirds are in the Ptilonorhynchidae-Bowerbird Family. There are twenty species in the family, of which, 16 are Bowerbirds.


Here are two video clips of him working on the bower. Notice how he goes in and out the other end of the bower. Unfortunately we were only able to view it from the side. One shot he is actually placing the stick upright in the ground. (I recorded him for a bit and then Dan came along. As I was explaining it to him, I got tickled, so ignore the snorts.) I was absolutely amazed watching this bird, which the Lord created, knowing how to make his bower chamber.



Did you notice the birds chirping and singing in the background. It is so peaceful in that aviary. The birds have so much room and places to hang out. You actually “bird watch” there.

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird (Chlamydera cerviniventris) Sign Zoo Miami by Lee

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird (Chlamydera cerviniventris) Sign Zoo Miami by Lee

Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 8:17 NKJV)

This is the sign telling about the Bowerbird and their name for it; a “Seduction Chamber.” We know that the Lord commanded the birds to reproduce and this bird is only following instructions. He builds his bower to entice a female to be his mate.

We were discussing this and several verses came to our minds:

My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10 NKJV)

And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. (Deuteronomy 13:10 NKJV)

And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. (Mark 13:21-22 KJV)

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. (1 John 2:25-26 KJV)

The Fawn-breasted is fine in what he is doing, but we can learn by watching and taking heed for ourselves.

But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: (Job 12:7 KJV)



Ptilonorhynchidae-Bowerbird Family

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird – Wikipedia

Bowerbirds – Wikipedia


Formed By Him – Bowerbirds

Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) in bower by Ian

Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) in bower by Ian

An interesting article from News to Note – Sept 18, 2010 issue talks about the Bowerbird and it’s ability to use special optical effects. The article is discussing Physorg.com’s information on the elaborate bowers the bird makes.

“Bowerbird males are well known for making elaborate constructions, lavished with decorative objects, to impress and attract their mates. Now, researchers reporting online on September 9 in Current Biology have identified a completely new dimension to these showy structures in great bowerbirds. The birds create a staged scene, only visible from the point of view of their female audience, by placing pebbles, bones, and shells around their courts in a very special way that can make objects (or a bowerbird male) appear larger or smaller than they really are.” (Physorg.com)

The scientist are trying to figure out about this aesthetically appealing ability. They noticed that the bird places articles from smaller to larger as the bower is approached. When they rearranged the articles, the Bowerbird changed them back. He is trying to give an allusion they think.

Spotted Bowerbird (Chlamydera maculata) by Ian

Spotted Bowerbird (Chlamydera maculata) by Ian

News to Note concludes with this:

“Evolutionists often seek to find natural explanations for distinct human aspects like aesthetics, moral consciousness, and self-consciousness. The bowerbirds’ apparent art appreciation seems to allow the most genetically fit to survive according to biologist Gerry Borgia of the University of Maryland. But do male bowerbirds intellectually conceive the idea of the optical illusion, and do female bowerbirds intentionally judge the design as artistic?

Rather than an intellectual intention towards art, the great bowerbird instinctively builds remarkable structures, and the female instinctively responds to the optical effect, as programmed by the Creator. Only man, created in the image of God, has a true aesthetic sense. When appreciating the beauty and design of creatures like the bowerbird, the wise aesthetic judge praises the Creator of both art and beauty.”

The two articles are interesting and of course, the one from Answers in Genesis, News to Note – Sept 18, 2010, issue gives the creationist view of this.

From another article:

” the male bower bird, an accomplished avian architect that has long fascinated scientists with its remarkably complex courting behavior. Instead of using just showy plumes or a romantic melody to attract a mate, the pigeon-sized bower bird constructs an elaborate structure — a bower — on the forest floor from twigs, leaves, and moss. It then decorates the bower with colorful baubles, from feathers and pebbles to berries and shells.”

“The bowers aren’t nests for raising kids; they are bachelor pads designed to attract and seduce one or more mates. When a female arrives to inspect the bower, the male struts and sings. He hopes to convince her to enter the bower, where mating takes place….they are of special interest to scientists seeking to understand how such complex traits evolve and function.”

Golden Bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana) at bower by Ian

Golden Bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana) at bower by Ian

“Each builds its own shape of bower and prefers a different decorating scheme. A few, for instance, surround their bowers with carefully planted lawns of moss. Others have been known to steal shiny coins, spoons, bits of aluminum foil — even a glass eye — in an effort to create the perfect romantic mood. Some, like the iridescent blue Satin bower bird, the star of Bower Bird Blues, even “paint” the walls of their structures with chewed berries or charcoal. For the male Satin, which builds a U-shaped bower from parallel walls of twigs, the favored color is blue. To decorate its “avenue,” as scientists call it, he collects blue feathers, berries, shells, and flowers. While some of these decorations are found in the forest, others are stolen from the bowers of other males; young males, in particular, are prone to this petty thievery. However obtained, the precious knickknacks are then scattered around the bower. The male then waits, passing time by constantly fine-tuning his structure and rearranging the decorations. (from Nature)

And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:22 NKJV)

That verse answers it for me. God created them with that “complex trait.”

Information about the Bowerbird:

They are in the Ptilonorhynchidae – Bowerbirds Family of the Passeriformes Order. There are 21 species in the family in 9 different genus. There are 3 Catbirds and an Piopio included in the family.

Bowerbirds and catbirds make up the bird family Ptilonorhynchidae. These are medium-sized passerines, ranging from the Golden Bowerbird (22 cm and 70 grams) to the Great Bowerbird (40 cm and 230 grams). Their diet consists mainly of fruit but may also include insects (fed to young), flowers, nectar and leaves in some species.

The bowerbirds have an Austro-Papuan distribution, with ten species endemic to New Guinea, eight endemic to Australia and two found in both. Although their distribution is centered around the tropical regions of New Guinea and northern Australia, some species extend into central, western and southeastern Australia. They occupy a range of different habitats, including rainforest, eucalyptus and acacia forest, and shrublands.

Bowerbirds are most known for their unique courtship behaviour, where males build a structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly coloured objects in an attempt to attract a mate.

The catbirds are monogamous and raise chicks with their mate, but all other bowerbirds are polygymous, with the female building the nest and raising the young alone. These latter species are commonly sexually dimorphic, with the female being more drab in color. Female bowerbirds build a nest by laying soft materials, such as leaves, ferns, and vine tendrils, on top of a loose foundation of sticks. They lay one or two eggs, which hatch after 19 to 24 days, depending on the species.

The most notable characteristic of bowerbirds is their extraordinarily complex courtship and mating behaviour, where males build a bower to attract mates. There are two main types of bowers. One clade of bowerbirds build so-called maypole bowers that are constructed by placing sticks around a sapling; in some species these bowers have a hut-like roof. The other major bowerbuilding clade builds an avenue type bower made of two walls of vertically placed sticks. In and around the bower the male places a variety of brightly colored objects he has collected. These objects — usually different among each species — may include hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, berries, and even discarded plastic items, coins, nails, rifle shells, or pieces of glass. The males spend hours arranging this collection. Bowers within a species share a general form but do show significant variation, and the collection of objects reflects the biases of males of each species and its ability to procure items from the habitat, often stealing them from neighboring bowers. Several studies of different species have shown that colors of decorations males use on their bowers match the preferences of females.

In addition, many species of bowerbird are superb vocal mimics. Macgregor’s Bowerbird, for example, has been observed imitating pigs, waterfalls, and human chatter. Satin bowerbirds commonly mimic other local species as part of their courtship display. (Wikipedia)

(Information from various Internet sources.)
Articles here on the Blog about Bowerbirds:

Golden Bowerbird by A.J.Mithra
Ian’s Bird of the Week:
Tooth-billed Bowerbird
Spotted Bowerbird
Golden Bowerbird

More Formed By Him articles

Family#126 – Ptilonorhynchidae

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Golden Bowerbird

Golden Bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana) by Ian

Golden Bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana) by Ian

Newsletter – 02-28-2010

Searching for a suitable Bird of the Week, I found that the Golden Bowerbird hasn’t, I don’t think, featured as BOW before. That’s a serious omission which we’ll now rectify. It’s serious because all bowerbirds are special, the Golden Bowerbird is particularly gorgeous, its a local specialty and it’s survival is of real concern in the case of global warming.

The adult male Golden Bowerbird is golden-yellow below and glossy golden-olive above, with a yellow erectile patches on the nape and crown. The rarely-seen female is, in comparison, a rather drab olive-brown (there’s a photo of one on the Birdway website, link below). With a length of 23-25cm/9-10 in, it’s the smallest of the Australian Bowerbirds but, as compensation, it builds the biggest bower. It is found only in highland rainforest in the wet tropics of northeastern Queensland from Mount Elliott near Townsville north to Mount Cook near Cooktown. It nest only above 900m/3,000ft, but moves lower in winter. A good place to see them is near Paluma, about one hour’s drive from where I live.

Golden Bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana) at bower by Ian

Golden Bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana) at bower by Ian

Most Australian Bowerbirds, such as the Satin Bowerbird, build ‘avenue’ bowers consisting of two parallel walls of twigs on a display platform. The Golden Bowerbird builds a ‘maypole’ bower, consisting of at least two columns, each consisting of sticks arranged around a sapling. This can be up to 3m/10ft in height but more typically is about 1m high like the one in the photo. Between the saplings is a branch used as a display perch and the male bird decorates this with lichens and rainforest flowers, often orchids. The bowers are often incorrectly referred to as ‘nests’, but the bowers are built and maintained by the males to attract females for mating and the females build their own nests. If the male bowerbird disappears, the bower will be taken over by another male so a particular site remains in use used decades.

The concern about global warming arises because their habitat consists of islands of highland rainforest in a sea of coastal lowlands. If warming eventuates, the boundaries of the highland rainforest may rise in altitude and the islands may ultimately disappear. The Golden Bowerbird has iconic status here, but other species would be affected too, such as the Mountain Thornbill. Consequently, Paluma Range has been classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and monitoring of the bowers of Golden Bowerbirds is undertaken by Birds Australia North Queensland.

Best wishes,

Golden Bowerbird
Satin Bowerbird
Mountain Thornbill
Birds Australia North Queensland

Recent additions to Website include photos of:
Spotted Bowerbird
Superb Fruit-Dove
Little Bronze-Cuckoo
Australian Brush-Turkey
Australian Bustard
Long-tailed Finch

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:

Bowerbirds are in the Ptilonorhynchidae family of the Passeriformes order.

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth And makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’ (Job 35:11 NASB)