Architects of the Backyard and Bush
You might know of the Satin Bowerbird. It’s the crafty Australian bird that builds a bower out of sticks, and decorates it with blue items, like stolen pegs, straws, and bits of litter, as well as blue flowers and berries.
Male Satin Bowerbirds have striking blue-black feathers and vibrant violet eyes, and they’re the ones that build the bowers. It takes a male seven years to develop his distinctive black feathers. Females and juvenile males are a dull green with dark coloured eyes.
If you’re lucky you might stumble upon a bower in a shady area. This structure is made out of two parallel walls of sticks. The male Satin Bowerbird spends a lot of time collecting blue straws, flowers, bottle caps and other items to surround his bower and make it more appealing to females.
You can help look after Satin Bowerbirds in your Backyard
As male Satin Bowerbirds spend plenty of time on the ground, building, decorating and tending to their bowers, it’s a good idea to keep your cat indoors as much as possible.
You may even like to install a cat enclosure to ensure that your cat can go outside without attacking any animals or birds.
You can encourage Satin Bowerbirds to build their amazing bowers in your garden by planting lots of local native shrubs, trees and plants. They love to build their bowers in shady, protected spots, so don’t be afraid to plant densely.
Be a Backyard Buddy
Satin Bowerbirds love to feed on insects and native bush flowers. Avoid using chemicals
and pesticides in your garden, and let the Satin Bowerbirds be your bug controllers.
Including some local native plants in your garden that have blue flowers may well encourage male Satin Bowerbirds to visit, and take some blue flowers back to their bowers.
Satin Bowerbirds love:
- Creating bowers with various colourful items found in the forest and in the suburbs. The female Bowerbird often inspects the bower multiple times to see if the design meets her fussy standards!
- Chasing insects such as beetles and moths that are attracted to the nectar of native flowers.
- Travelling in flocks of around 100 birds, mostly light green coloured females, during the early months of the year.
But they don't like:
- Litter. Bowerbirds love to fetch colourful items for their nest, however sharp plastic can get caught on their feet or feathers and hurt them.
- Shrubs and trees that have come in contact with pesticides.
- Cats or dogs that trample their bower or attack them.
Be a Buddy to Satin Bowerbirds
- Plant plenty of native shrubs with colourful flowers and berries for birds to munch on.
- Ensure your garden has a nice thick layer of leaf litter that Bowerbirds can use for their nests and to catch grubs lying underneath.
- Keep pets inside, especially at night and when you can’t supervise your pooch.
- Using pesticides, bowerbirds will eat all the insects that munch away at your plants so there is largely no need for chemicals.
- Clearing all the leaf litter out your garden, otherwise there will be no insects for the bowerbirds to eat!
- Leaving rubbish around the garden, bowerbirds are curious critters that are crazy about the colour blue. So make sure nothing falls out next time you take the bin out.
Don't be surprised if Satin Bowerbirds:
- Steal your bottle caps and pegs! Bowerbirds are crafty birds that are always on the look out for something pretty to use for their bower.
- Display odd movements such as prancing and wing fluttering. When a male attracts the attention of a female he begins his courtship display, which involves exaggerated movements around the bower.
- Use their saliva when making a nest. This is used to mould the nest into shape and prevent their precious creation from blowing over! Charcoal is also used loosely on the bower to create a painted effect.
A few more Satin Bowerbird facts
Satin Bowerbird profile:
- Satin Bowerbirds have a loud ‘wee-oo’ call. So next time you are walking in the bush or the backyard, have a listen for their call.
- During courtship displays, males often mimic the calls of other bird species. This technique is just another way of standing out to the fussy females.
- While the male creates a fancy bower, the female bowerbird is responsible for building a nest of loose twigs some 30 metres above the ground.
- Bowerbird nests can differ depending on where the bowerbird lives. Bowerbirds close to humans often have ribbons and bottle caps in their nest, whereas away from humans the nests can be composed of cicada wings, snail shells and parrot feathers..