Studies have shown that the calling songs of males are strikingly different between the different Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua populations of the three-wattled bellbird (4) (9), and it is the population in the Monteverde area of Costa Rica that produces the most familiar of the calls, a loud, characteristic ‘bock’ or ‘bong’ (3) (7) (10) (11). During the breeding season, males call continuously from exposed perches, typically a broken branch with few or no leaves, high up in the canopy of tall trees (6) (10) (11). When a visiting bellbird enters the territory of the male, landing on a ‘visiting perch’ (which is usually another broken branch beneath the canopy), the male will continue to call and display, sometimes exhibiting a ‘wattle-shaking’ behaviour, where the wattles are extended to full length and shaken silently from side to side. Regardless of whether the visiting bellbird is male or female, the male will also face the visitor, at the broken-off end of the perch, and begin calling loudly into its ear, a behaviour which usually results in the departure of the visiting bird from the territory (7). Breeding is thought to occur between March to late June or early July, in montane forest, although relatively little is known about the nesting period, or the remainder of the courtship ritual (2) (7) (8).
The three-wattled bellbird feeds mainly on the fruits of the Lauraceae family (a group of flowering plants), often consuming more than 30 large fruits in a day (10) (11). It has an extraordinarily wide gape, which is thought to be an adaptation to accommodate its fruit-eating lifestyle (7) (11).