Fire-maned bowerbird (Sericulus bakeri)

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Male fire-maned bowerbird perched
IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened NEAR
THREATENED

Top facts

  • Fire-maned bowerbirds get their name from the male’s eye-catching flame-coloured crown and mane.
  • The male fire-maned bowerbird builds an elaborate bower to attract a female, often decorated with blue and purple fruits.
  • The bower of the rare and shy fire-maned bowerbird was not described until 1986.
  • The fire-maned bowerbird is particularly vulnerable as it is restricted to a small area of a certain altitude, the Adelbert Mountain range in Papua New Guinea.
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Fire-maned bowerbird fact file

Fire-maned bowerbird description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyPtilonorhynchidae
GenusSericulus (1)

The eye-catching fire-maned bowerbird belongs to a family of birds known for the elaborate bowers, or thatched structures, built by the males to attract females (3). This bowerbird gets its name from the male’s striking flame-coloured crown and mane, which, along with a golden wing-patch, contrasts vividly with the rest of its glossy jet black plumage. The face, throat, breast and wings have a slight deep blue tinge (4). Females lack this vibrant plumage, and instead are mainly mousy brown, with off-white underparts streaked with brown (2) (4).

Also known as
Adelbert bowerbird.
Size
Length: 27 cm (2)
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Fire-maned bowerbird biology

The shy and retiring fire-maned bowerbird is most often seen perching upon exposed, thin branches in the forest canopy, alone, in pairs or in small groups (4). Fruit composes the vast majority of the diet, particularly figs, but it also feeds on insects, and will visit trees in secondary growth forest to find such food.

Relatively little seems to be known about the fire-maned bowerbird, possibly due to its rarity and shyness, and the bower of this species was not described until 1986. The bower constructed by the male is a small avenue, or walkway, around 20 centimetres long, made of unbranched and typically curved twigs. These bowers have been found decorated with blue and purple fruits (4). It is thought that the fire-maned bowerbird is a polygynous bird, in which the males are promiscuous and only females attend the nest and care for the eggs and chicks. Nests are constructed from dried leaves, twigs and vines (4).

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Fire-maned bowerbird range

Occurs in Papua New Guinea, where it is restricted to the Adelbert Mountain range (4).

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Fire-maned bowerbird habitat

The fire-maned bowerbird occupies the mid-storey to canopy of original hill forest, primarily between elevations of 1,200 and 1,450 metres. It also occurs at forest edges adjacent to native gardens where it visits fruiting trees (4)

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Fire-maned bowerbird status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened

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Fire-maned bowerbird threats

Due to the fire-maned bowerbird solely inhabiting forest above a certain altitude, this affectively restricts the species to a small ‘island’, resulting in, like other island species, an increased vulnerability to threats. Although the Adelbert mountain range is not heavily populated, local agriculture may impact on the bowerbird’s habitat (2). A greater threat is the significant pressure from the government to log pristine forests in the region as part of a large forestry concession project (5).

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Fire-maned bowerbird conservation

At present there are no specific conservation measures focused on the fire-maned bowerbird, and protection of its habitat is made difficult due to land in Papua New Guinea being held in traditional ownership by numerous clans, with no legally protected areas. However, The Nature Conservancy is working to protect the tropical forests of the Adelbert Mountains through the initiation of a new conservation mechanism, Conservation Covenants. Essentially long-term land leases, landowners agree to protect their land for conservation in exchange for sustainable development benefits such as roads and schools (5). Further research into this fire-maned bowerbird’s population, biology, habitat and threats is also essential for the continued survival of this striking bird (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on the fire-maned bowerbird see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Polygynous
In animals, a pattern of mating in which a male has more than one female partner.
Secondary growth forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. BirdLife International (May, 2009)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=5177&m=0
  3. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  4. Frith, C.B. and Frith, D.W. (2004) The Bowerbirds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. The Nature Conservancy (June, 2007)
    http://www.nature.org/wherewework/asiapacific/papuanewguinea/work/art6725.html
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Image credit

Male fire-maned bowerbird perched  
Male fire-maned bowerbird perched

© Ron Hoff

Ron Hoff
Clinton
Tennessee
United States of America
ronhoff511@gmail.com

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