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A photo of a Golden Bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana), male
Golden Bowerbird, Male

Golden Bowerbird

Prionodura newtoniana

The golden bowerbird, Prionodura newtoniana, is a captivating avian species belonging to the Ptilonorhynchidae family. It is distinguished as the smallest member of the bowerbird family. The male is particularly striking with a brown head, brown wings, and a dazzling yellow-gold plumage on the underside, tail, crest, and nape. Females, on the other hand, exhibit an olive brown coloration with ash-gray underparts. The immature birds resemble females but can be identified by their brown eyes.

Identification Tips

To identify the golden bowerbird, look for the male's distinctive yellow-gold underparts and the female's more subdued olive and ash-gray tones. The size is also a key identifier, as this species is the most diminutive of the bowerbirds. Observing the eye color can help differentiate between immature and adult females.

Habitat

The golden bowerbird inhabits upland rainforests, typically ranging in elevation from 350 to 1530 meters. They prefer environments with mild slopes, ridges near hill crests, and areas below steeper slopes where the terrain levels off, with canopy coverage often exceeding 70%.

Distribution

This species is endemic to northeastern Queensland, Australia, with a patchy distribution limited to the Atherton region. It resides in rainforests above 350 meters in elevation and can be found in some areas disturbed by human activities such as logging.

Behaviour

The golden bowerbird exhibits fascinating behaviors, particularly in males, who construct and maintain intricate bowers over several years. Males take five to six years to mature, during which they learn social hierarchies and bower-building skills. Upon reaching maturity, they establish a bower site, decorate it meticulously, and may engage in decoration theft from neighbors. During the breeding season, from August to December, males perform various vocalizations to attract females.

Song & Calls

The golden bowerbird's vocal repertoire is most active from September to December. The male's call is a pulsating rattle note, lasting 1-2 seconds and repeated multiple times. Other vocalizations include squeals, screeches, scold-rasps, wolf-whistle notes, and high-quality mimicry of other bird species' calls. Males respond more vigorously to local dialects than to unfamiliar ones.

Breeding

Females build nests in cup-shaped crevices, often within tree trunks, laying one to two eggs per clutch. Nestlings are fed a diet of fruit and insects, with fledging typically occurring in January. The lifespan of golden bowerbirds can range from 6 to 30 years.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the golden bowerbird primarily consists of fruits, supplemented by insects and spiders. They favor fruits from vines, flowers, buds, and arthropods. Nestlings consume mainly fruits and some insects, such as cicadas, with the proportion of fruit increasing as they age. Males are known to cache fruits near their bowers for later consumption.

Conservation status

The golden bowerbird is currently classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Its population has declined by 20–29% due to habitat destruction from cyclones and the ongoing threat of climate change, including heat waves that reduce available resources. While their range is mostly within a conservation area, further studies are recommended to understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change on this species.

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Golden Bowerbirds on Birda

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Profile picture for Sogg Meister
Sogg Meister
29 Jun 2024 - 12:10am
Australia

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