Satin Bowerbirds have gone too (Hugh Krenske)

aka DDDs (Departure Date Determinations). When migrants return, we delight in claiming the "First for the season". So why is it that we don't place equal emphasis on claiming the "Last for the season"? Well we all know why. It's too darn hard. Unless we religiously keep a diary of our sightings and then compare notes in the off-season to determine whose was the last sighting, how would we do it? Well now I think I know: provide another avenue for some one-up-manship on a public forum! If you've bettered the last date, please set the record straight ...

Moderator: Mick Atzeni

Post Reply
User avatar
Mick Atzeni
Posts: 1843
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2005 9:08 pm

Satin Bowerbirds have gone too (Hugh Krenske)

Post by Mick Atzeni » Thu Aug 30, 2007 8:23 am

An interesting email from Hugh about changes in Satin Bowerbird numbers at his Toowoomba home. Also shows the value of keeping a diary on such things! Hugh lives in West St and his yard backs on to City Golf Course.

Hello Michael

On Sunday 12th August, the satin bower birds left our place after a continuing presence since October 2006.

I am putting some of my observations and possible conclusions together that someone may be interested in. If you feel it’s relevant to pass it on do so.

Prior to October 2006, the only times satin bower birds visited our place (SW Toowoomba – inner suburb), were after fire events on the escarpment. They would hang around for a couple of days and then leave.

In October 2006, one satin bower bird female stayed. It built a nest but appeared to abandon it. If you went looking for the bird, you invariably would not find it. Instead, you just came across it as it worked its way through the undergrowth or as it glided from bush to bush.

In November 2006, it was joined by a second bird, presumably a female. During the early part of 2007, the number grew to 5, although the new comers appeared smaller in size. I do believe that the birds did successfully breed somewhere in the area and it could have been in the nest that was built in October, although I did not see any evidence of birds visiting the nest.

Occasionally we saw the males, but these sightings were very few as the birds were very furtive – you more or less just glimpsed him. I am of the opinion that the male visitor was just that – visiting and keeping an eye on things.

In recent months, the birds started visiting the balcony where left over fruit from possums (mostly apples) was the target. They had to share this with day time visits from King parrots and the rainbow lorikeets. They also ate fallen fruit from the mandarin and orange trees. The bower birds presence was constant – you only had to sit somewhere quietly and you had a good chance of seeing them.

The noisy miners targeted the bower birds initially, but they held their ground and now are fairly well accepted by both the noisy miners and the blue faced honey-eaters. I have also noticed that currently there are fewer noisy miners and their territory seems to have increased so that they visit much of the western side of the City Golf Links. The side benefit of this is that we are hearing and seeing more of the little birds that they chased away – pardelotes, whistlers, and occasionally hearing what we think is a Lewins honeyeater.

Last Sunday, 12th August 2007, a male bower bird appeared in the morning. The difference with this visit was that he easily seen feeding in the leaf litter and undergrowth, eating citrus with the females. He seemed less wary. We could walk past the area where he was foraging without him taking flight. He was taking a commanding role in the birds’ activities. He stayed all day.

On Monday, 13th August 2007, the bower birds were gone. It is now Friday and there has been no sign of them. There are various conclusions that I have come up with.

1. It is breeding season and they left to visit his bower. The juveniles went as well.
2. They sense a coming change in the weather and have returned to more suitable habitat.
3. Because of the drought conditions, suitable food for them in our area is becoming scarce and they have moved on.

Finally, it almost appears that the male maintains a harem of females. In dry, less secure times, he disperses his harem around the district in suitable locations, visiting each outpost occasionally until there is a need to get them back together or move them on to newer areas.

Nevertheless we enjoyed their visit over the last 10 months, but we miss their harsh calls and almost scissor grinding vocals.


I think Satin Bowerbirds numbers and movements locally would be another interesting survey. Just documenting where bower locations are would be a good start. I can think of at least 5 off the top of my head.
Michael Atzeni
7 Woden St, Murphys Creek 4352
Mob: 0499 395 485

Post Reply

Return to “Going, going, gone ...”