Bowerbirds - A Life On Stage

By State Museum Nature and Man

Landesmuseum Natur und Mensch Oldenburg

Bowerbirds can only be found in Australia and New Guinea. Evolution has implemented a unique courtship display for each of the 20 species. The males build avenues, may trees and huts especially for the time of courtship. Each species also decorates those structures with objects following a specific color scheme. The females observe the process from surrounding trees, while the males create and decorate the structures in their very own "arena", as if they were performing on stage. The choice of partner is made by the females according to the quality of construction, the decorating effort and the successful "theft" of decorative objects from other male rivals. The exhibition shows all types of bowerbirds including their courtship structures in their original scale. In addition, it takes a look at the misleading humanization of animal behavior and combines the fascination with aesthetics in the animal kingdom with the discussion about intelligence and intent of animal activity.

Laubenvögel - Ein Leben auf der Bühne, Sonderausstellung (10.6.2017 - 18.2.2018) Amblyornis inornataState Museum Nature and Man

The Gardener Bowerbird (Amblyornis inornata) builds one of the most impressive courtship structures. The 1.5 m² spanning arbors are built and decorated with great effort over long periods of time. This species was discovered in New Guinea as early as 1870 by Baron von Rosenberg, but their mating hut was not discovered until 1872 by Odoardo Beccari.

Laubenvögel - Ein Leben auf der Bühne, Sonderausstellung (10.6.2017 - 18.2.2018) Chlamydera nuchalisState Museum Nature and Man

The avenues built by the Great Bowerbird (Chlamydera nuchalis) are comparatively narrow and are decorated with snails, shells and smaller bones. It can be found in Australia.

Laubenvögel - Ein Leben auf der Bühne, Sonderausstellung (10.6.2017 - 18.2.2018) Sericulus aureusState Museum Nature and Man

In comparison to the structures of other bowerbird species, the avenues of the Flame Bowerbird (Sericulus aureus) are rather inconspicuous. This bowerbird occurs in New Guinea exclusively and mates between August and November.

Laubenvögel - Ein Leben auf der Bühne, Sonderausstellung (10.6.2017 - 18.2.2018) Ptilonorhynchus violaceusState Museum Nature and Man

The Silk Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) also belongs to the group of avenue builders. If the arbor is erected close to human settlements, bottle tops and other plastic objects may be used as decoration. A striking feature of its behavior is that only blue objects are collected.

Laubenvögel - Ein Leben auf der Bühne, Sonderausstellung (10.6.2017 - 18.2.2018) Ailuroedus buccoidesState Museum Nature and Man

Some bowerbird species, however, do not build courtship structures at all. The White-eared Bowerbird (Ailuroedus buccoides) has never been observed constructing some form of arbor or avenue. But since they carry all morphological and genetic characteristics of a bowerbird, they are considered part of the family nevertheless.

Laubenvögel - Ein Leben auf der Bühne, Sonderausstellung (10.6.2017 - 18.2.2018) Amblyornis subalarisState Museum Nature and Man

The Streaked Bowerbird (Amblyornis subalaris) builds a combination of hut-shaped arbor and a so-called May tree. The hut is decorated with fruits, mushrooms, leaves and beetle wing covers.

Credits: Story

Text: State Museum Nature and Man Oldenburg
Concept/Editing: Dr. Christina Barilaro, Michael Demanowski
Created on the basis of: Laubenvögel. Ein Leben auf der Bühne. Katalog zur Ausstellung im Landesmuseum Natur und Mensch Oldenburg vom 10. Juni 2017 bis 18. Februar 2018. Isensee Verlag, 2017.
© State Museum Nature and Man Oldenburg
www.naturundmensch.de

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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