Australian Bush Birds
Spotted Bowerbird  -  Chlamydera maculata
Spotted Bowerbird
Satin Bowerbird at Eulo, southwest Queensland.
photograph photograph
Left. The mainly brown of the Spotted Bowerbird head and back contrast with the pale yellow of the belly and undertail.
Right. The pink crest on the back of the neck of the Spotted Bowerbird (both sexes) has a grey patch extending from the crest onto the bird's back. (Eulo, Qld)
map map The Spotted Bowerbird - Chlamydera maculata - has the crown and face brown streaked ochre; upper parts, wings and part of tail are dusky brown with ochre spots at the tips of all feathers. Throat and breast are brown-grey, mottled darker, grading to cream over the belly; flanks are barred grey, underside washed yellow. Eye brown, bill horn-brown, feet olive-brown. Back of neck has a prominent lilac-pink crest, smaller in females, with a grey mantle patch below extending onto the upper back. Females similar to males; juveniles lack the lilac-pink neck crest. Grows to 27 to 31 centimetres long.

Spotted Bowerbirds live singly or in small groups feeding mainly on fruit and occasional insects in the crown of trees and shrubs, they drink daily.

Breeding takes place from September to February. Males spend much time, during the breeding season and the rest of the year, tending and watching over the bower of twin parallel walls of finely interwoven dry stems up to 50 centimetres high and 70 centimetres long, set 20 centimetres apart in a foundation of crossed stick and oriented north-south on the ground under sheltered vegetation.

Spotted Bowerbird - page 2
The bowerbird dabs a red-brown mixture of saliva and grass juice on the inner walls at each end. The ground at each end up to a metre from the bower is cleared and decorated with neat piles of white and pale green objects.

When a female arrives the male displays with various contorted poses and making a variety of noises mixed with remarkable mimicry. Mating takes place in the bower with any number of females then the female usually goes far from the bower to build a nest, lay eggs and rear the young.

The nest is built on a horizontal fork 2 to 15 metres above the ground; it is a loose saucer of thin interlocking leaves, vines and twigs to 20 centimetres across and 9 centimetres deep; lined with tendrils. Two to three eggs are laid; pale buff-grey with dusky zigzags lines; oval in shape, 38 x 27 millimetres.

Lives in grassed woodlands of mid-eastern Australia, south to the Murray River, north to mid-Queensland, west to the Georgina River system in western Queensland. The Western Bowerbird (Chlamydera guttata) is very similar but lacks any trace of the grey mantle patch below the lilac-pink crest characteristic of the Spotted Bowerbird. The Western species lives in arid open woodland of Western Australia.