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Bowerbirds: Ptilonorhynchidae

Physical Characteristics

Bowerbirds are small- to medium-sized, stocky birds that are related to birds of paradise. They are known for the bower-building activities of males within some species. The bower is a shady, leafy, elaborate shelter that the male builds for courtship to females. Bowerbirds show a range of colors in their plumage (feathers) including bold patterns of yellow, orange, green, and lavender with gray or black in many species; plain brown or gray in other species; and a few species that are spotted. In the brightly colored species, males are brighter than females; while in the duller colored species, males and females look alike. There are about fifty to sixty plumage variations within bowerbirds. Some species have only one primary color that blends into their environment, while others have two primary colors, with adult males showing colorful plumages and females being drab. Nestlings (young birds unable to leave the nest) have pinkish, orange-pink, or pale flesh-colored skin. Plumages of juveniles and immature males are similar to those of adult females. Males take five to seven years to fully acquire adult plumage.

Bowerbirds have a stout, powerful bill, except for the thinner, longer bill of regent bowerbirds and the falcon-like mandibles (upper and lower parts of bill) of tooth-billed bowerbirds. The bill is dark brown to black but can be pale; slightly hooked at tip in all species; and can be slightly downcurved, straight, thin and weak, or heavy. Bowerbirds have a black, pale yellow, or orange-yellow mouth; strong legs and feet that are usually dark brown, olive-brown, olive, blue-gray, or black; and toes with hard scales.

Some species have a crest (growth on top of head) of elongated feathers, often brilliantly colored. In other species, the crest forms a complicated mane that hangs over the upper back. Adults are 8.7 to 14.6 inches (22 to 37 centimeters) long and weigh between 0.18 and 0.64 pounds (80 and 290 grams).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsBowerbirds: Ptilonorhynchidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Satin Bowerbird (ptilonorhynchus Violaceus): Species Accounts, Spotted Bowerbird (chlamydera Maculata): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, BOWERBIRDS AND