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23

Satin Bowerbird

(Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)
Alternate name(s): "Satin-bird"
Size: 28-34 cm
Weight: 160-270 g
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Satin Bowerbird at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "violaceus"

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ADULT

MALE

Full-frontal view of an adult male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[O'Reilly's Plateau, Gold Coast, QLD, November 2013]

Frontal view of a male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[O'Reilly's Plateau, Gold Coast, QLD, November 2013]

Near-frontal view of a male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[O'Reilly's Plateau, Gold Coast, QLD, November 2013]

Near-frontal view of a male Satin Bowerbird
[Bald Rock NP, NSW, October 2007]

Close-up near-lateral view of a male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Queen Mary Falls, near Killarney, QLD, October 2015]

Near-lateral view of a male Satin Bowerbird
[Bald Rock NP, NSW, October 2007]

Close-up near-lateral portrait of a male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Alpine NP, VIC, October 2018]

Close-up lateral portrait of a male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Old Gap Road, Swifts Creek North, East Gippsland, VIC, October 2017]

Close-up lateral portrait of a male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Alpine NP, VIC, October 2018]

Lateral view of a male Satin Bowerbird in its bower
[Dorrigo, NSW, 2005]

Dorsal view of a male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Queen Mary Falls, near Killarney, QLD, June 2017]

FEMALE

Direct comparison of the heads of an immature male Satin Bowerbird, left, and a female, right; apart from the different behaviour (the male carrying the stick for its bower) the major difference is the colour of the bill and the colour of the iris, which in the male is starting to turn towards purple (photos courtesy of R. Plumtree)

Close-up near-frontal portrait of a female Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Tenterfield, NSW, February 2013]

Close-up near-frontal view of a female Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Queen Mary Falls, near Killarney, QLD, October 2015]

Close-up near-frontal view of a female Satin Bowerbird; note the characteristic dark bill (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[South Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, April 2014]

Close-up near-frontal view of a female Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Queen Mary Falls, near Killarney, QLD, June 2017]

Here a female Satin Bowerbird seen preening; note the bird's cryptic plumage

Lateral view of a female Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of Y. English)

Lateral view of a female Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Alpine NP, VIC, October 2018]

Dorsal view of a female Satin Bowerbird in bad light on a rainy day; this bird was seen taking the seeds of a birch (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Tenterfield, NSW, February 2013]

Female Satin Bowerbird in flight, displaying its underwing pattern (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Tenterfield, NSW, February 2013]

Female Satin Bowerbird, left, with food (possibly a piece of an apple) for a dependent juvenile (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Tenterfield, NSW, February 2013]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

There is a separate page on an immature male Satin Bowerbird working on its bower.

Male Satin Bowerbirds take 6-7 years to reach maturity.

Ca. 3-5 year old male Satin Bowerbird moulting into adult plumage (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Katoomba, NSW, January 2014]

Direct comparison of the heads of an immature male Satin Bowerbird, left, and a female, right; apart from the different behaviour (the male carrying the stick for its bower) the major difference is the colour of the bill and the colour of the iris, which in the male is starting to turn towards purple (photos courtesy of R. Plumtree)

Frontal view of an immature, second-year(?) male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Alpine NP, VIC, October 2018]

Lateral view of an immature Satin Bowerbird - note the light-coloured bill
(photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Mt. Tamborine, QLD, December 2013]

Female Satin Bowerbird feeding a dependent young (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2017]

Lateral view of a fledgling Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2013]

Fronal view of a female Satin Bowerbird bringing food for her fledgling chick (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2013]

The same two Satin Bowerbirds as shown above (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2013]

Breeding information

Satin Bowerbirds can interbreed with Regent Bowerbirds. The offspring of such pairs are called "Rawnsley's Bowerbirds".

Twitcher's tip

A bower is NOT a nest - it is a male bird's courting alley. Nests, built by female birds, are in fact kept well away from bowers.

Breeding season: Oct - Feb Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 21 - 22 days Fledging age: ca. 21 days

Nest building: Female Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, dry leaves Height above ground: 1 - 30 m

Adventurous Satin Bowerbird chick outside its nest (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2017]

Female Satin Bowerbird on its nest (photo courtesy of L. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, January 2017]

Female Satin Bowerbird on its nest (photo courtesy of L. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, December 2017]

Female Satin Bowerbird collecting nesting material, probably for lining the nest (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Mt. Tamborine, QLD, December 2013]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 44 x 30 mm Colour: Creamy, with light- to mid-brown speckles Shape: Elliptical

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary/roaming Elementary unit: Solitary

Male Satin Bowerbirds are sedentary, females are roaming.

The male Bowerbird builds a bower from twigs that it finds on the ground and tries to lure the female into its lair with its wooing display.

Richly adorned bower of a male Satin Bowerbird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Queen Mary Falls, near Killarney, QLD, June 2017]

Frontal view of a male Satin Bowerbird in its bower (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Queen Mary Falls, near Killarney, QLD, June 2017]

Overview of a Satin Bowerbird's bower
[Dorrigo, NSW, 2005]

Close-up view of the blue trinkets
[Dorrigo, NSW, 2005]

Close-up view of the twigs
[Dorrigo, NSW, 2005]

Note the blue trinkets, which are arranged in a certain pattern. In one of the photos above the male is rearranging the position of a blue feather. Since it has blue eyes, it is obvious what is considered "beautiful" by female Bowerbirds.

Here a Satin Bowerbird's bower in more open surroundings, in a bed for ornamental flowers
[O'Reilly's Plateau, Lamington NP, Gold Coast, QLD, May 2014]

Far away from humans, it is harder for a male Satin Bowerbird to find suitable blue trinkets to decorate the bower
[Ferntree Gully Environmental Reserve, near Rylstone, NSW, December 2016]

Far away from humans, it is harder for a male Satin Bowerbird to find suitable blue trinkets to decorate the bower
[Ferntree Gully Environmental Reserve, near Rylstone, NSW, December 2016]

Male Satin Bowerbird, the owner of the unadorned bower shown above, waiting for "customers"; this is the bird whose calls were recorded on 17 December 2016
[Ferntree Gully Environmental Reserve, near Rylstone, NSW, December 2016]

Male Satin Bowerbird with a shell, possibly for its bower (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Alpine NP, VIC, October 2018]

Food, Diet

We have seen Satin Bowerbirds take grass, seeds and fruit.

Frontal view of a male Satin Bowerbirds with a fruit (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Near Kyogle, NSW, July 2013]

One of many Satin Bowerbirds feeding on grass on the lawn of a campground
[Bunya Mountains NP, QLD, July 2009]

Female Satin Bowerbirds feeding in grassland; the bird on the left is displaying its dorsal plumage in flight (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, August 2012]

Female Satin Bowerbird hollowing out an apple (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Tenterfield, NSW, February 2013]

Dorsal view of a female Satin Bowerbird in bad light on a rainy day; this bird was seen taking the seeds of a birch (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Tenterfield, NSW, February 2013]

This female Satin Bowerbird has developed a taste for commercial budgerigar seed mix (photo courtesy of K. Davison)
[Glen Iris, Melbourne, VIC, May 2013]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

satbowr_20150328.mp3 (NE NSW) Contact calls? © MD
satbowr_20161217.mp3 (Ctl NSW) Male near bower © MD
satbowr_20160311.m4a (S QLD) Male near bower © MD
satbowr_20161217_2.m4a (Ctl NSW) ? (Male) © MD
satbowr_20160311_2.m4a (S QLD) ? © MD
satbowr_20150328_1.m4a (NE NSW) ? © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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