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Ol’ Blue-eyes

September 29, 2017

During my latest excursions with the Murrindindi Birdwatchers I have learned a new word – ‘Lifer’. A lifer is a bird that you have observed for the first time ever, and of course everyone is keen to do that. Last weekend whilst wandering in the bush I saw a lifer. Strangely enough it was not really the bird that I was interested in but one of its constructs – a bower. Ever since I was a kid I had heard of the bower that a Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) makes and how the male decorates it with blue articles to attract and impress the female Bowerbird.

And there it was in the middle of the bush, a collection of blue articles (pictured above) – packing twine, packing straps, plastic lids, even the top of a BIC ballpoint pen. It took four visits to the bower over several days to eventually see the constructor of the bower (pictured right). The male is solid black in colour (the female is green/brown) but when the light is at the correct angle it diffracts off the feathers to give the male bird a distinctly metallic blue appearance. Most striking however are the violet-blue eyes.

This particular male was quite mature. Younger males are coloured like the female and decorate their bowers with both blue and yellow objects. As a bird matures the feathers become darker and the decorations become more blue.

Which got me thinking…all the items in this bower were man made. Blue is not a common colour in nature and I wonder what was used to decorate bowers before man appeared. Berries maybe, even flowers.

If I was a Crimson Rosella I’d watch out for my tail feathers.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    September 29, 2017 10:22 am

    A bower is really amazing to see when you find one. We found one at Murrindindi near the swing bridge a while ago. Great to get a picture of the senior male. Congratulations on your ‘lifer’!

  2. September 29, 2017 4:03 pm

    I had a lifer earlier this year and saw both the male and female of the bowerbird at Candlebark Camp Ground at Eildon. You are right, the eyes are piercing purple/blue and the sheen on the male is beautiful. If I can find my photos of both male and female, I shall email them to you.

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