Over the years we have encountered many Great Bowerbird bowers. They vary in construction and there is also a wide variation in the items that they collect. Traditionally the Great Bowerbirds collect mostly white and green items, but this varies by location. At Keep River National Park the Great Bowerbird bower was almost entirely white bones and it was nowhere near human habitation. At the Katherine Gorge National Park we discovered the Great Bowerbird bower was mostly white items, but there were some additional green items. These green items were for the laying of concrete and despite the size of them had been carried to the bower. At Big Horse Creek the items in the Great Bowerbird bower were also mostly white, but there were a few green items among the pile of “treasures”. These items are to lure a female into the area and we have encountered Great Bowerbird courtship display in that area. Around the township of Broome the Great Bowerbirds collect both white and green items, which are both natural and man-made. A Great Bowerbird will sometimes move a bower after severe weather events or just reconstruct a bower. The items from the original bower will mostly be moved to the new bower.

The first time we encountered a Great Bowerbird that had collected blue items was at Timber Creek. It is well documented that Satin Bowerbirds collect blue items. Sometimes we see a Great Bowerbird bower in an obvious position with blue items strewn close by. We have seen tourists throw blue items in the area wrongly presuming that all bowerbirds like blue. We have observed the Great Bowerbird move the blue items away and it is not their preferred colour. We actually did an experiment at another location in the Kimberley over a few days to see if a Great Bowerbird would take blue items if we left some close by, but no items were moved.

At Timber Creek there are plenty of items to add to the Great Bowerbird bower, but for seem reason it has collected quite a lot of blue.

Great Bowerbird bower

It is unclear if it is more about the shape than the colour or could a Great Bowerbird actually be colour-blind?

Items in the Great Bowerbird bower

Great Bowerbirds do collect glass marbles, but the presence of a blue marble is unusual and the presence of the blue Spinning Fly Wheel is interesting too. Could this item have been mistaken as being green by a Great Bowerbird?  Birds can see more colours than humans, so it is intriguing that this Great Bowerbird appears to like collecting blue!

If you do know of Great Bowerbirds, not Satin Bowerbirds, collecting blue then please document it in the comments below.

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!