This adult male Satin Bowerbird is a handsome blue-black with a violet eye and greenish-yellow bill. Clearly taken by blue he has amassed an assortment of blue objects to decorate his bower in the hope of attracting a female. The older males try to keep the females to themselves by smashing the nests of the younger males with their still green feathers and stealing their blue ornaments for themselves. I wonder if that’s where the expression ‘still green’ comes from, a reference to the as yet uninitiated or experienced bowerbird.
The Satin Bowerbird is a glossy blue-black bowerbird with violet eye and semi-covered greenish-yellow bill. This male has created a lovely bower of twigs like an avenue of trees and surrounded it with blue finds like the blue peg in its bill and the occasional blue or yellow flower. He was in a lovely quiet part of Coffs Harbour’s Botanical Gardens and I spied another busy male closer to the entrance but no females as yet seem to be paying any attention. It’s the last month of winter and the weather is warming up and already this week I have spied a number of busy birds collecting twigs for nests.
This little bird has been visiting the trees along the edge of the Moonee Beach Nature Reserve on the NSW north coast. Thanks to having my camera on hand I am finally able to see it up close and I am a bit stumped as to what variety it is.
At first I thought it was a cuckoo, you can see the similarity to the fan-tailed cuckoo here, but it doesn’t match any of the cuckoos described in my bird book The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds. Besides, this one has three toes on the front and according to the book cuckoos have two on the front and two at the back.
Its body shape, beak and long tail is similar in some ways to a Cuckoo-Dove but the colour is wrong as they are rusty-brown. However they are known to feed on low trees, such as wild tobacco (and that’s where I first spotted his one) but there is no mention of that beautiful blue eye or juveniles being coloured like this.
It could be a cuckoo-shrike as they have the three toes at front and are grey but they usually have black around the eyes and this one is more brown on top than the distinct greys in my book so there are enough differences for me to discount it. So I’m stumped and would love to know. Can anyone help?
UPDATE 22 Oct ’12: My FB friend from San Francisco CA suggested it was a female Satin Bowerbird and I think she is right. The book describes females as dull greenish/blueish-grey with a yellowish white breast abdomen with dark scallops and the ALL important blue eye! The male juveniles are similar with a dark eye becoming blue with age but in the fourth year their breast is greenish with fine white spots and by the 7th year they have the full blue plumage so I think this one is a female. Apparently they use tobacco bush berries in their nest building and the tobacco tree is her favourite haunt.