Satin bowerbirds

Ptilonorhynchus violaceus

The male resembles the female until he is about 7 years old when his plumage moults to black with a glossy purple-blue sheen.

The female is slightly smaller than the male and her plumage is grey-green, dusky brown and dark brown. Her underbody is buff to cream, marked with dark olive-grey to dusky grey crescents.

Both male and female satin bowerbirds have bright lilac-blue eyes.

Decoration of bowers.

The Satin Bowerbird gets its name from the intricately weaved “bower” that the male builds to entice the females to mate with him.

With a solid mat floor of small sticks the elaborately built U-shaped bower is made out of twigs and sticks woven into the walls, which run in a north-south direction. The dominant males brilliantly decorates the platforms at either end of the bower with flowers, feathers, berries, shells, leaves and when around humans, will use objects such as pegs and bits of plastic usually predominantly blue in colour but will use some yellow or green objects as well. They also paint the walls with charcoal and their saliva coloured from fruits. The bower is not a nest, but an attractive “avenue” made by the males to hopefully entice and impress any female into it.  Each mature male bird protects his bower throughout the year.

When courting, the male satin bowerbird prances and struts around his bower. He offers the female items from his collection of blue objects, while making a series of hissing, chattering and scolding noises. Mating takes place in the avenue of the bower, and the male may mate with several females in a single season.

The satin bowerbird can be found in rainforests and the edges of drier forests on the coast and adjacent ranges of eastern Australia from Cooktown in Queensland to near Melbourne, in Victoria.

Only the female builds a nest. The female builds the shallow, saucer-shaped nest 10–15m above the ground in the outer branches of a tree. It is constructed of twigs and dry leaves and lined with fine dry leaves. 1 to 3 eggs are laid and incubated by her and she then raises the young on her own.


NSW Department of Environment

Field guide to Australian Birds.

Field guide to the birds of Australia, 6th Edition