Saturday, May 29, 2010


Although they may look like something created by American artist Andy Goldsworthy, these are bowers made by the aptly named bowerbird. The males construct them to attract a mate, and generally the more drab their plumage, the more ornate the bower. After they build the roofed stick structures, the birds spend hours arranging decorations of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, and berries - the colors chosen to match the preferences of the females of the species. There are 20 species of bowerbird, all native to Australia or Indonesia. Many bowerbirds were documented during Conservation International's second Rapid Assessment Program in the Foja Mountains of Papua. Their elaborate courtship rituals have led some researchers to consider bowerbirds to be among the most behaviorally complex birds. Some of them can also do some mean mimicry, imitating the sounds of pigs, waterfalls, and human chatter.

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