Satin BowerBirds - sexing? /& other notes

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Subject: Satin BowerBirds - sexing? /& other notes
From: <>
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 2004 15:36:54 +1100
I don't know but would like to know about the age and sex of the last satin 
bowerbird I saw. 'either female or very young male'. It had dark brown eyes 
without a hint of blue. A regular garden bird at Malacoota.

PS. Re numbers of birdwatchers in Australia. The only way to compare is to find 
out how the British counted their birdwatchers. It's clear from previous 
discussion that you wouldn't include me, I have a bird website but no club 
membership or Pizzey or even bins. I don't even think of birds in winter. I'm 
sure that Australia has proportionately more birders than Britain.

David Paterson


-----Original Message-----
 Behalf Of Judith L-A
Sent: Wednesday, 3 November 2004 8:36 AM
Subject: Satin BowerBirds - sexing? /& other notes

Yesterday (up at Mt Mee /Ocean View), while watching 'our' Satin Bowerbirds in 
the garden, I began to wonder how possible it is to sex the green birds by 
behaviour? Here is an example of what we see:
        On this occasion, four green birds were active in front of us. All had 
dark beaks. Usually this would only define them as 'either females or very 
young males'. (And one would then begin to wallow in, say, whether or not the 
throat is scalloped or spotted, whether or not the mantle is streaked, etc.) 
However, I observed the following--
        Two of the birds (1 & 2) were more 'flighty', nervous, than we're 
accustomed to seeing. The eyes of both were brown-blue. Of these two, one had a 
pale 'eye-ring' and both seemed a little pinkish around eyes and head. 
Occasionally, one or other of these two would take a break from feeding and 
perch quietly on a branch, with a fluffed-up 'nestling' look to it.
        These two were often in the company of a third dark-beaked green bird 
(3). This bird was steadier in its manner; did not flinch when closely 
overflown by M1 (our bower-holding mature male); and at least once that I 
observed, appeared to quickly feed one of the two birds (1 or 2), when it 
approached in a swift low movement across the grass.
        The fourth  dark-beaked green bird (4) was not foraging with the other 
three for fallen figs in the grass, at this time. A little further off than the 
first three, it was near the edge of the low shrub-canopy where the young males 
traditionally have their winter workshops. However, though clearly a very young 
bird, 4's posture was continuously tail-raised. And his performance of the 
'dance' was excited in the extreme. Never have I seen any of these bowerbirds 
perform so wildly as to flip around with the beak as a ground-fulcrum as this 
bird did! It was 'overwrought', 'uncontrolled', frantic, but still clearly THE 
        So:  From all these observations, can I deduce their sex behaviourally? 
-- To say, maybe, that bird number 3 is a female? (& possibly the mother of 1 
&/or 2?) -- and that bird 4, though still dark-beaked & indecipherably green, 
is a male (& unusually precocious?)? -- and simply that birds 1 & 2 are 
'infants', last year's brood perhaps? (& essentially 'sexless', yet?)
        ...Is it possible that long, close observations could eventually be 
extrapolated to produce some behavioural criteria for sexing green birds...?

(Please note also that on our place, while the male M1 uses violet-blue objects 
for bower decoration, the objects that are presented to the females by all 
males [or are used to practise presentation in workshopping] are light yellow, 
whenever these activities have been within my line-of-sight.)
        (Note too that a snakeskin has appeared as decoration in M1's bower -- 
first time for him, I believe.)


Judith L-A
S-E Qld
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