pre-European bowers

To: <>
Subject: pre-European bowers
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 20:42:23 +1000
A few days ago, Phyl Goddard wrote:
[Satin Bowerbirds]
also are said to decorate their bowers by 'painting with a mixture of
saliva and charcoal or saliva and green liverwort', using a stick as a
paintbrush (Vellenga, 1970). The Vellengas also did a lot of work on
SBBs according to Rowley. I wonder if that latter claim has ever been

Yes, it has. Here in the Blue Mountains you can often see the dark-coloured paste which has been painted onto the inside walls of the bowers. Once I watched a bird from close quarters painting its bower using a piece of lichen or moss as a paintbrush - this was at Leura very near where the Vellengas did their studies.

And on the topic of natural, or pre-European, bower decorations, the following is from an account of a walk in the northern Blue Mountains which I posted on Birding-Aus in November 2000:

"Near the end of the day I found a lavishly decorated Satin Bowerbird's bower, on a ledge between boulders halfway up a steep hillside. It was far enough from civilisation that the majority of the decorations were natural. These included a large number of blue Crimson Rosella feathers, blue Stypandra flowers, yellow wattle flowers, pale greenish and brown leaves, a number of greenish cocoons, a large huntsman spider (almost, but not quite, dead and looking like it had been placed there by the bird) and, to our surprise, two freshly-picked beautiful yellow flowers of Dendrobium speciosum - the showiest of all the local orchid species. This of course led us on a hopeful search for the plants nearby, but we remained outdone by the orchid-finding skills of a bowerbird."



Carol Probets
Blue Mountains NSW

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