I had a Japanese film crew filming for a week at Possum Valley. They were particularly interested in the golden bowerbird. They had heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that I had a bower just 100m from the homestead. They found two more bowers on the hill opposite. No mean feat in 200 acres of rainforest. They spent 7 hrs a day sitting in hides at two locations. Oh! the patience required for a few minutes of footage. I learnt about the skullduggery that went on between the birds as an adult male was pinching the trophies of a juvenile male. The trophies for the golden bowerbird are a particular type of lime-green lichen collected to impress the females. Apparently the young male was livid, but didn’t dare take on the adult. The producer and cameraman from the film crew are back again at Possum Valley, this time for 9 days to take still shots. The weather is on their side again. Sunny and a pleasant 26C.
The male crafts a bower of twigs piled into 2 towers up to 2m high. Between the towers will be a horizontal branch decorated with lime green lichen. Each twig is glued into place to make a rigid structure that can be built upon each year, and may last for a decade. I suspect that the glue is made from the sap of perhaps a fig tree, and contains some latex. I wish I had in my workshop a waterproof glue that could bond for a decade, rough twigs exposed in a rainforest. If I find the secret, it will be patent pending. Update:- More recent information leads me to think that there is no such glue, but fungus fibres bind the structure together. The call of the male is very distinctive as a sort of rapid metallic rattle. If I heard anything similar in any machine of mine, I would turn it off immediately. With this call, he lures a female to inspect his bower. If she is suitably impressed by the bower and trophies, he has a chance to have his wicked way with her. Exhausted by the efforts of bower-building and copulation, he will offer no support to his progeny. That is secret women’s business to build a nest elsewhere and raise the chicks. Such is her lot. To date, I believe that nobody has ever found a nest of the golden bowerbird which means she is doing her job very well.
There are other species of bowerbirds at Possum Valley such as the satin bowerbird and the tooth-billed bowerbird. They each have their own stories to tell.