I don’t think there is a bird photographer in the world that does not want to photograph a Bowerbird in it’s bower. So, when you get the chance, you grab it with both cameras! Closely related to Birds of Paradise, Bowerbirds are absolutely stunning and a must have in any bird portfolio.
This past weekend we decided to head up to Lamington National Park, a great birding location about an hour inland from the Gold Coast. The drive us is winding and in many parts narrow with great views out over forested hills. Once up you arrive at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, an absolutely great rainforest birding location that is home to a few species of Bowerbirds that are easily to photograph. Better still, down near the picnic spot is a well maintained Satin Bowerbird bower. The resident male was busy attending to his showpiece. The area around the bower was decorated by a collection of bright blue objects ranging from blue feathers to pieces of plastic, bottle tops, and even a few blue straws. Any loose leaves or sticks messing up the bower were quickly and efficiently dispatched in the hope that they would not discourage the females interested in the display.
Male Satin Bowerbirds are absolutely wonderful looking birds with dark blue-black glossy plumage and bright purple eyes. Females are an attractive green, also with bright purple eyes. The Bower, a curved grass structure with a tunnel through it’s center. It is an absolutely amazing feat of engineering considering it is sitting on hard ground. We watched as the bird delicately replaced a few strands that had come unstuck. The purpose of the bower is purely to attract a female mate. Obviously, like modern humans, the man that can build and clean a house gets a girl easier than the guy who is messy. Unlike humans, actual Bowerbird nesting is done elsewhere in the form of a bowl of sticks in a dense bush or tree away from prying eyes!
Another species of Bowerbird frequently seen at Lamington is the striking Regent Bowerbird. The male has a really an absolutely splendid yellow and black plumage. The female is a dull mottled brown, more plain than it’s satin cousin, but still beautiful non the less.
The difficulty in photographing Regent Bowerbirds is the stark contrast in feathers; dark black and bright yellow is just too difficult for the camera to swallow. Add low light to the problem and all you can hope for is the bird sits still long enough to allow you to make the right adjustments.
But what a fantastic experience it was. Got to go back again sometime soon!