Golden bowerbird

Prionodura newtoniana taxonomy

Prionodura newtoniana De Vis, 1883, Tully River Scrubs, North Queensland, Australia.

other common names

English: Newton's bowerbird, Queensland gardener; French: Jardinier de Newton; German: Säulengärtner; Spanish: Capu-linero de Newton.

physical characteristics

9.5 in (24 cm); female 0.13-0.21 lb (62-96 g), male 0.13-0.19 lb (62-86 g). Brown head and wings with bright yellow-gold underparts, tail, crest, and nape.

distribution

Australian wet tropics, from Thornton Range and Mount Windsor Tableland in north to Seaview-Paluma Range in south, mostly at 2,300-3,250 ft (700-990 m) altitude.

habitat

Upland tropical rainforests. behavior

Males build bowers to attract females. Traditional bower sites spatially dispersed throughout suitable topography (flatter terrain and along ridge slopes and ridges), on average 495 ft (151 m) apart. Maypole bowers have one or two towers up to 6.6 ft (2 m) tall. Bowers are made of sticks around saplings with a horizontal display perch. Where the perch meets the tower(s), neatly aligned sticks form a platform(s) upon which grayish green lichen, creamy-white seed pods, flowers, and fruits are placed as decorations. Bower structures may remain in use for 20 or more years and traditional sites for much longer. Bowers are attended during August through December/January, peaking in October through December. Adult males emit rattle-like advertisement song and medleys of other calls including mimicry. They follow initial display posturing with an extensive flight and hover display, followed by hiding behind trees while producing vocal mimicry.

feeding ecology and diet

Omnivorous but predominantly frugivorous, eating a variety of fruits including those of many vines. Also eats flowers, buds, and arthropods, particularly beetles. Cicadas are important to the nestling diet. Adults mainly forage in the lower canopy and subcanopy.

reproductive biology

Polygynous, with promiscuous adult males and exclusively female nest attendance. Breeding occurs in late September through January/February. Egg laying peaks in November and December. Typically builds its open cup nest within a roofed tree crevice or crevice-like situation, up to 6.6 ft (2 m) above ground. Nest is composed of a foundation of stout sticks, a substantial bowl structure of dead leaves and leaf skeletons, and an egg-cup lining of fine, supple, springy tendrils. One to three plain whitish eggs are laid. Incubation lasts 21-23 days and the nestling period is 17-20 days.

conservation status

Not threatened. Common and widespread throughout limited remaining but fully protected habitat.

significance to humans

A small number of traditional bowers are of significance to local tourist industries (to the detriment of several resident males disturbed by too frequent human visitations). ♦

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