Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Bowerbird

I often call my husband a Bowerbird.

By definition, a Bowerbird, is a small bird that is noted for building a large nest decorated with bright objects such as shells and glass, in an attempt to attract a mate; It is also a person who collects objects for display. Or - as I like to think - a person who is a hoarder, or a person who doesn't like to throw anything away.

The peculiar thing about Bowerbirds is the nests themselves. They consist of a chamber or passage arched over with twigs and grasses, often adorned with bright-colored objects, and used especially to attract the female. Like below. You can see the 'nest' at the top of the photo, and the decoration to attract a mate around the edge. This bower isn't especially colourful, though it is located out in one of the paddocks. I suppose pegs and bits of broken glass are harder to come by out there. Bowerbirds have a colour preference too. Some like blues, others prefer reds. It could be that western QLD Bowerbirds prefer red (I see mostly reds around here), however it could just be that we have a prevalence of red objects lying around as opposed to blue. Bowerbirds are fastidiously house proud. I like that in a bird. Even though I'm not a huge bird fan. I can see how if CP grew up watching these birds, he would think that your partner shows love by keeping a clean and tidy house, adorned with ornaments that he would find pleasing. It must kill him walking into our house, which often looks like World War 3 has broken out while he was at work, and try to pretend that everything is okay.

This week we found a Bower Bird in the corner of our house yard, setting up a nest. CP and I went over to inspect it, and (much like the 3 other Bowerbirds nests I've seen) there were pegs at the enterance. Clothes pegs. MY clothes pegs. I wanted to go and rescue my pegs from the clutches of this hoarding bird. CP told me about how once you disturb a Bowerbird nest, they often leave home and set up elsewhere. I suppose they are not so different to humans after all. If I took my pegs back, the bird would look at it as if his house had been broken in. Ironic, given that I only wanted to take back what was rightfully mine. Instead, I went inside and wrote 'pegs' on the grocery list. I'd just get some more next time I was in town.

The Bowerbird is actually a very ordinary looking bird. At least the type we get out here is anyway. It is quite a plain looking bird, as opposed to the Satin or Regent Bowerbirds, which are quite attractive and shiny.

The thing I really like about Bowerbirds is that they are terrific imitators. I have come running many times to what I thought was a crying baby, or a cat in the yard (we don't own a cat), or the kids playing loudly on the trampoline, only to find nothing of the sort. And the Bowerbird is probably sitting back in its nest in the corner of the yard, laughing silently at the crazy woman who has come outside in a panic!

I find irony in a situation where my husband (who can't tolerate waste in any form) seemed quite happy with my pegs going to waste in the Bowerbird's nest. Like the real Bower Bird that he is, he doesn't like to share or give anything away (remember the 'thong' incident of Fiji?!). But then again, maybe that's why he's a little partial to our Bowerbird. Maybe he sees something of himself in the bird, and is happy to share with the cute little fella. Especially if it means he might find a female to share that little nest with at the end of the day.

Life in the country can be lonely when you're on your own...


  1. mum used to tell a story about a friend or rellie of hers who lost her engagement ring to a bower bird in theodore. she'd left it on a window sill above the sink.

  2. we have lots of satin and regent bower birds here but have never seen a nest......and ours don't imitate ... although the butcher bird at cabba did loads of imitations...including my pathetic (very quiet ) whistling for the dog. he would even do a great black cockatoo reduced volume too because the black cockies flew so high overhead out there.

    i am an avid bird watcher and will miss the birds the most when we move back to the beach ... keep us posted on any eggs and offspring jess.

    and ps...your pegs aren't going to waste...its all in the name of love and procreation ... maybe CP is just a big romantic at heart ; )

  3. Thanks, Jess, for reminding me of the bower birds. I've been trying to remember all week what is the name of the bird that collects things. I will use some of your information for my post tomorrow if that's OK with you.

  4. No problem Pauline! I look forward to it!

  5. Hi again Jesse
    Hope you don't mind, I've passed on an award to you.


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