Regent bowerbird

Sericulus chrysocephalus taxonomy

Sericulus chrysocephalus Lewin, 1808, Patterson's River = Hunter River, New South Wales, Australia.

other common names

English: Regent bird, Australian regent bowerbird, king honey sucker, golden regent; French: Jardinier prince-régent; German: Gelbnacken-Laubenvogel; Spanish: Capulinero Governador.

physical characteristics

9.8 in (25 cm); female 0.20-0.30 lb (91-138 g), male 0.17-0.24 lb (76-110 g). Black with bright yellow flight feathers and area from forehead to shoulder; orange-red band from forehead to nape. Eyes are bright yellow.

distribution

Subtropical coastal zone of central eastern Australia from immediately north of Sydney to the Connors and Clarke Ranges, Eungella Plateau, inland of Mackay, Queensland, with a gap in distribution around the Fitzroy River valley inland of Rockhampton. From sea level to 2,950 ft (900 m), but altitude varies across the range.

habitat

Subtropical rainforest, adjacent woodland, and, in winter, more open habitats, including cultivated country and urban gardens.

behavior

Males build bowers to attract females. The sparse and small avenue bower is well concealed beneath low dense vines/foliage. Traditional bower sites are dispersed through appropriate ridge top habitat. Bowers discovered by rivals are destroyed, if not by a rival then by the owner. Another bower is then built at a nearby location. Bower structures last an average of 10 days or less. Decorations include green leaves, flowers, fruits, snail shells, and cicada ectoskeletons. Seasonal bower attendance mostly September through January on Sarabah Range but from July through August elsewhere. Adult males vocalize by producing harsh grating sounds; when courting they emit a soft complex subsong.

feeding ecology and diet

Omnivorous but predominantly frugivorous. Also eats flowers, nectar, and animals. Females dominate males at feeding trees.

reproductive biology

Polygynous, with promiscuous adult males and exclusively female nest attendance. Breeding occurs September through February. Egg laying peaks in November and December. Typically builds relatively frail open cup nest among clumps of vines or mistletoe 6.6-102 ft (2-31 m) above ground. Nests are made of a frail shallow saucer of loose sticks and an egg-cup lining of finer twigs with a few leaves. One to three colored and vermiculated eggs are laid. Incubation in captivity lasted 17-21 days and nestling period at one nest was 17 days.

conservation status

Not threatened. Common and widespread throughout limited remaining but mostly protected habitat. In some areas numbers are reported as greatly reduced to uncommon because of habitat destruction and degradation.

significance to humans

Adult males were once systematically hunted for mounting as decorative novelties commonly included in cabinets of stuffed birds. They are also a popular cage bird, both within and outside Australia. Birds may be pests to cultivated fruit crops. ♦

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