Bowerbirds are recognised mimics. Alec Chisholm in "Bird Wonders of
Australia" (Angus & Robertson - my 3rd Edition, 1948), wrote: "A resonant
shout "Cherooo", and many curious churring notes are the Satin Bowerbird's
chief calls, but it often adds to these by stealing the voices of other
birds. Sometimes a "King Satin" (as an old blue bird is occasionally
termed) has exceptional talent as a mocker."
However Chisholm rates the Spotted Bowerbird as an even better mimic:
"He can and does imitate faithfully the creaking of branches, the
twanging of wires as sheep or emus scramble through fences, the squealing of
rabbits, the barking of dogs, the croaking of frogs, the rattling of gravel,
the "whistling" of the wings of the Crested Pigeon, and the voices of many
species of birds."
Two unusual examples of Satin Bowerbird mimicry:
1. A national parks (Qld.) colleague studying and taping a Lamington N. P.
Satin Bowerbird found that he mimicked the call of a Lewin's Honeyeater
while simultaneously continuing his churring bower song. (Independently
using the two sides of his syrinx, I assume.)
2. My mother, living on Tamborine Mountain (in from the Gold Coast) was
occasionally troubled by Grey Goshawks raiding her chook-yard. On several
occasions she heard the whistle of a goshawk followed by the squawking of a
distressed domestic fowl. Raced out to protect her chooks only to find them
going about their domestic affairs quite unconcerned. Eventually found that
it was Satin Bowerbird mimicry!
> From: "Brian Everingham" <>
> Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 09:00:45 +1000
> To: Birding-aus <>
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Mimicry
> My morning walk today, on the Balcolyn shoreline on Lake Macquarie, had me
> hearing what I thought to be a Whistling Kite. On closer inspection it
> proved to be a Satin Bowerbird. I'm not sure if it was a female or an
> immature male but the mimicry was quite impressive. What other evidence is
> there of mimicry in this species?
> Brian Everingham
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