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Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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TOOTH-BILLED BOWERBIRD

Tooth-billed Bowerbird.jpg (8786 bytes)
Photo: C & D Frith
Australian Tropical Birds  

ENDEMIC Tropical North QLD

TOOTH-BILLED BOWERBIRD
Scenopoeetes dentirostris
26 cm

         The Tooth-billed Bowerbird is one of 12 bird species endemic to the Wet Tropics region.

         The display court is simple, comprising a low perch for singing, above an area cleared of litter and decorated with leaves turned pale surface uppermost.

      Also known as the Stagemaker, the Tooth-billed Bowerbird is endemic and
        sedentary (does not travel far). It lives in the Atherton Region of Australia between
        600 and 1400m altitude.

      It is unlike other bowerbirds as the male bird does not build a bower, but instead,
        he clears a small area of land. This is referred to as his stage or his court.

      It is of medium size (24-27cm), olive-brown in colour, and has a dark bill with
        notches in it used to cut off leaves for use in decorating his stage.

      The male uses the same area of rainforest floor for constructing his stage as the
        year before. It is constructed at the beginning of the breeding season from
        October to January.

      The stage may be as large as a 4 x 2m clearing.

      As decorations, he places fresh leaves with their paler sides turned up (to provide
        greater contrast on the floor of leaf litter and debris) on the ground. He manages to
        detach these leaves from trees by using a difficult gnawing action through their
        stems. Up to 180 small leaves may be collected for a single stage, and the males
        compete and copy each other to find the biggest or most valuable leaves for their
        own use. Some birds prefer large leaves, and those of the wild ginger plant (up to
        50cm long) have been seen used. As leaves dry out, or if they become saturated
        from the rain, they will be pushed aside to form a pile to the side of the stage.

      The male also has an extensive variety of calls that can be heard throughout the
        rainforest at this time to attract females. He often mimics other bird species or
        sounds within the rainforest. If he cannot hear one of his neighbours calling, he
        may raid their stage and steal their leaves (as this may be quicker than obtaining
        one for themselves).

      His vocalisations, displays, stage and decorations must all impress visiting
        females if he is to gain a partner.

      The males form what is known as an exploded lek – this is a place where they can
        all hear each other and try to attract females to mate. They may mate with many
        females in the same season (from October to March). Females depart to lay their
        eggs (usually 1 to 2) and raise the young alone.

      A male may spend 95 percent of the day on average singing from his perch, often
        2-3m above his stage.

      In winter, the male is inactive and quiet amongst the canopy, and much harder to
        see and hear. With no bright patterns on his plumage, he blends in to the canopy.

      They eat fruit, leaves, stems, buds, insects and their larvae.

           It is observed readily round Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodge, especially during
        the breeding season from September to January.     

RETURN TO BIRD INDEX

Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges
Lake Eacham, Atherton Tableland
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
PH & Fax: 07 4095 3754 International: 61 7 4095 3754

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