MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: What Bird Collects things that glitter and sparkle?

Date: Thu Jan 11 21:12:43 2001
Posted By: Ingrid Dodge, Grad student, Immunology
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 977272497.Zo

Dear Matt:

Hi! This is an interesting question. Many birds will collect shiny objects, and even carry them to places like their nests (crows being one type of bird that does this) and even parakeets are attracted to shiny objects and mirrors.

The type of bird I believe you may be referring to, though, is known as the bower bird. There are 17 species of bower bird (family Ptilonorhynchidae, order Passeriformes), which are natives of Australia and New Guinea, which build spectacular display sites. The male bower bird builds one of three types of display sites: the platform, the avenue or the maypole. The avenue, which I have seen in person and is quite impressive, consists of a cleared lane in between two arching twig "walls." Placed around the entrance and exits of the lane are shiny objects, feathers, berries and rocks - anything the male bird thinks will entice female birds. The maypole is a construction of twigs around a central sapling, and a mat is what it sounds like. The bowers may serve the purpose of allowing the females to examine the males while being protected from them.

You can check out more information on bower birds at:
Gerald Borgia's bower bird site
Nature's Bowerbird site
If this is not the bird you were thinking of, please ask again.
Best wishes,
Mad Scientist

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