Fire-maned bowerbird (Sericulus bakeri)

Also known as: Adelbert bowerbird
GenusSericulus (1)
SizeLength: 27 cm (2)
Top facts

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

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

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)

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).

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).

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).

For further information on the fire-maned bowerbird see:

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:

  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2009)
  2. BirdLife International (May, 2009)
  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)