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Spotted Bowerbird

(Chlamydera maculata)
Alternate name(s): "Mimicbird", "Cabbage-bird"
Aboriginal name(s): "wiidhaa" [gamilaraay, yuwaalaraay]

Size: 25-31 cm
Weight: 120-165 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Spotted Bowerbird at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information


Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .


Sex unknown

In frontal or near-frontal views we do not know how to distinguish between males and females.

Close-up frontal view of a Spotted Bowerbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

The same Spotted Bowerbird as shown above, slightly different posture
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Lateral portrait of a Spotted Bowerbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Close-up lateral view of a Spotted Bowerbird (photo courtesy of R. Druce)


Dorsal view of a male Spotted Bowerbird preening and in the process displaying prominently its pink nuchal crest
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]


Lateral view of a female Spotted Bowerbird (a different photo shows the characteristic small nuchal crest)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2007]

Near-dorsal view of a female Spotted Bowerbird (photo courtesy of A. Allnutt)
[Lake Cargelligo, NSW, January 2019]

Dorsal view of a female Spotted Bowerbird - here one can see clearly the small pink nuchal crest (a male's would be wide enough that, when erected, it can be seen from the front by the sides of the head)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2008]

Near-frontal view of a female Spotted Bowerbird (slightly out of focus); while the male bird made its usual racket this one followed silently
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2007]

Lateral view of an female Spotted Bowerbird in a shady area
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2007]

Close-up lateral view of a female Spotted Bowerbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2007]

Only a few feathers of this Spotted Bowerbird's nuchal crest are pink - the rest is dark-grey
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2007]

Spotted Bowerbird issuing its hissing call (photo courtesy of R. Druce)


Lateral view of a juvenile Spotted Bowerbird; note the absence of a pink nuchal crest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2006]

Near-dorsal view of a juvenile Spotted Bowerbird; note the absence of a pink nuchal crest (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Bowra Station, near Cunnamulla, QLD, September 2017]

Breeding information

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: Sep - Jan Eggs: 1 - 2 Incubation period: 21 - 22 days Fledging age: ca. 21 days

Nest construction, incubation and care for the chicks is entirely the task of the female. The male is too busy with his bower and his attempts to attract as many females as possible to assist... Females keep their nests well away (at least 50 m) from bowers.


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

Type: Basket Material: Twigs Height above ground: 2 - 15 m

Spotted Bowerbird nest with two eggs inside (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Near Baradine, NSW, 1980ies]

Nest of a female Spotted Bowerbird in the early stages of construction; this nest was later abandoned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2007]


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

Size: 38 x 28 mm Colour: Creamy, structured with brown streaks all over Shape: Tapered oval

Spotted Bowerbird eggs inside the nest (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Near Baradine, NSW, 1980ies]


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

Male bowerbirds are sedentary, females are roaming.

Male Spotted Bowerbird on its high perch, above the bower; from this location the bird announces his presence by calling
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2020]

spotbow_20200211.m4a (NW NSW) Contact calls (male) © MD

While some other birds splash themselves wet when bathing, Spotted Bowerbirds fully immerse themselves in water.

Spotted Bowerbirds know how to turn a bath into a shower; this male displays its pink nuchal crest in the process
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2016]

Male Spotted Bowerbird displaying its pink nuchal crest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2016]

We have noticed that, while normally they always skip, male Spotted Bowerbirds - when trying to impress a female and thereby craning their neck while displaying their nuchal crest - can, and do, in fact walk. We have not seen any Spotted Bowerbird walking on alternating feet in any other circumstances yet.

Spotted Bowerbird lifting one of its wings, in a manner observed by us for various types of doves and pigeons
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2013]


Male Spotted Bowerbirds try to attract as many females to their territory, and thus their bower, as they can. It appears that male Spotted Bowerbirds hone their building skills based on experience (see "additional information" link below).

Bower with trinkets
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

Female Spotted Bowerbird inspecting a trinket near the bower; it is clear from the precision and repeatability of the arrangements that the birds have a very accurate sense of symmetry and order
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2007]

Here a male Spotted Bowerbird carrying a new piece of decoration (the seed of a black pine) to its bower
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

This male Spotted Bowerbird has no pink spot yet and its bower is very basic and unadorned - probably a young "start-up"; nevertheless, females were observed taking an interest
[Tiger Bay Wetlands, Warren, NSW, December 2016]

Additional information

Click here to visit a separate page describing the evolution of a Spotted Bowerbird's bowers over the course of years.

Food, Diet

Spotted Bowerbirds around our place have shown a taste for a varied diet - we have seen them stealing our mulberries, taking nectar from bottlebrush flowers, eating seeds of Kurrajong trees and cracking seeds of the White Cedar trees on the neighbouring property. They also like the fruit of the introduced Californian Peppertree.

Spotted Bowerbird collecting fruits from a native shrub, Eremophila debilis
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2020]

Spotted Bowerbird collecting fruits from a native shrub, Eremophila debilis
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2020]

Fruit of a Californian Peppertree; the red ones are ripe - we have seen Spotted Bowerbirds take these; since they did not appear in the bower as decoration, the birds will probably have eaten them

Here a Spotted Bowerbird has snapped off part of a mulberry
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Another surprise came when we observed two birds "trim" our parsley plant, which finally explained why it seemed to never grow in size... Later, this turned out not to be so surprising (see below).

What have we here, in this boring buffalo grass lawn?
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Let's give it a try... female Spotted Bowerbird starting to peck at something on the ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Indeed, fresh clover!
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

This female Spotted Bowerbird is feeding on the flower of a plant similar to dandelion
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Spotted Bowerbird taking an interest in psyllids
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Female Spotted Bowerbird feeding on nectar
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]


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.

While Spotted Bowerbirds are very good at mimicking a variety of other bird calls or sounds (such as e.g. mobile phone ring tones, mewing cats, etc.), they excel at mimicking raptor calls. Raptor call renditions can be good enough to mislead experts.

spotbow_20161116.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact call (arrival) © MD
spotbow_20200211.m4a (NW NSW) Contact calls (male) © MD
spotbow_20170907.m4a (NW NSW) Antics at bower (male) © MD
spotbow_20170907_2.m4a (NW NSW) Antics at bower (male) © MD
spotbow_20140108.mp3 (NW NSW) Antics at bower (male) © MD
spotbow_20140310.mp3 (NW NSW) Warning call (human) © MD
spotbow_20150414.mp3 (NW NSW) Warning calls © MD
spotbow_20191230.m4a (NW NSW) Mimicry (Wedge-tailed Eagle) © MD
spotbow_20200224.m4a (NW NSW) Mimicry (Wedge-tailed Eagle) + departure © MD
spotbow_20180217.m4a (NW NSW) Mimicry (Gr.-cr. Babbler, Austr. Raven); contact call © MD
spotbow_20180613.m4a (NW NSW) Mimicry (Pied Butcherbird) + contact calls © MD
spotbow_20191021.m4a (NW NSW) Mimicry (fox) © MD
spotbow_20150120.mp3 (NW NSW) Investigating recorder © MD

We have also recorded the wing beat of a Spotted Bowerbird.

spotbow_20141017_3.mp3 (NW NSW) Departure © 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.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.