Friday 17 May
Vogelkop bowerbird (Amblyornis inornata)
Vogelkop bowerbird fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Vogelkop bowerbird description
The fascinating Vogelkop bowerbird (Amblyornis inornata) belongs to a unique family of birds famed for their construction of complex structures known as ‘bowers’ (3). The Latin name, inornata, refers to Vogelkop bowerbird’s lack of bright plumage. Some scientists have theorised that the complexity of this species’ bower has resulted in the male no longer needing bright plumage in order to attract a mate (3).
The plumage of the Vogelkop bowerbird is mainly brown, with its upperparts being dark brownish-olive fading to pale cinnamon brown on the underside (2). The Fakfak Mountain population of this species has slightly darker plumage on the upperparts, with brownish-yellow plumage below. The Vogelkop bowerbird has a brownish bill, dark brown eyes and bluish legs (2).
Although the male and female Vogelkop bowerbird are quite similar in appearance, the female can be distinguished by being slightly smaller, with legs that are darker and less blue than the male (2).
- Amblyornis inornatus. Top
BirdLife - Vogelkop bowerbird:
- A plant that grows on another plant, typically a tree, using it for physical support but not drawing nourishment from it.
- An external skeleton that supports and protects an animal’s body.
- A mating system in which males have more than one female partner.
IUCN Red List (October, 2011)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2009) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Rowland, P. (2008) Bowerbirds. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
- Madden, J. (2001) Sex, bowers and brains. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, 268: 833-838.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Vogelkop bowerbird biology
The most fascinating aspect of the Vogelkop bowerbird’s biology is the construction of a wigwam style bower by the male (3). In general, male bowerbirds construct and decorate bowers in order to attract a mate, with the structure of the bower varying greatly between species. Female bowerbirds are thought to prefer to mate with males that construct larger and more highly decorated bowers (4).
The bower of the male Vogelkop bowerbird is a complex hut-like structure, generally known as a maypole bower as it is built around a central sapling tree trunk (2). The roof is usually made out of epiphytic orchid stems, and the whole construction can be up to 1.5 metres in height and 2 metres in diameter (2). The central pole of the bower is covered in moss, and this extends out to form a lawn in front of the bower. This lawn is then decorated by the male with neat piles of attractive objects, including brightly coloured fruits and flowers, insect exoskeletons and pieces of charcoal (2). Red, blue, black and orange coloured items are particularly favoured by the Vogelkop bowerbird, though the colour, type and amount of ornaments varies greatly from bower to bower and between populations (2) (3). The male Vogelkop bowerbird will often indulge in sabotage or theft from a neighbouring bower (2).
In certain parts of its range (Fakfak and Kumawa Mountains), the Vogelkop bowerbird builds a more simple structure which lacks a roof (2). The extreme difference in bowers may lead to these populations being classified as a separate species, although genetic studies so far have not revealed any major differences (2) (3).
When a female Vogelkop bowerbird arrives at the bower, the male will begin the courtship display by rushing inside and crouching at the rear of the bower, while singing (2). The courtship songs consists of both natural sounds and mimicry, and the chamber of the bower is believed to amplify the song (3). During the courtship display, the male will also stand erect and occasionally run out from the concealment of the bower, with its head cocked to one side, before dashing back in (2). Male Vogelkop bowerbirds are polygynous, mating with more than one female (3).
The female Vogelkop bowerbird alone is responsible for nest construction and raising the young (3). Only a few nests have been observed and these were built in the forking branches of saplings, about 1 to 2.5 metres above the ground. One such nest has been described as an untidy structure of sticks, with a lining of leaves. The clutch size of the Vogelkop bowerbird is known to be at least one egg (2).
While there is little information on the diet preferences and feeding behaviour of the Vogelkop bowerbird, it is known to feed on fruit and insects (2).Top
Vogelkop bowerbird range
The Vogelkop bowerbird is native to New Guinea, where it can be found in the Tamrau, Arfak, Wandammen, Fakfak and Kumawa Mountains (2).Top
Vogelkop bowerbird habitat
The preferred habitat of the Vogelkop bowerbird is rainforest with a canopy of 25 to 30 metres. It occurs at elevations ranging from 1,000 to 2,075 metres, but is usually found between 1,200 to 2,000 metres (2).
It is absent from areas of extensive, bare rock (2).Top
Vogelkop bowerbird status
The Vogelkop bowerbird is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Vogelkop bowerbird threats
The Vogelkop bowerbird is described as being common and widespread throughout its range (2). Due to the small size of its range, however, this species could be vulnerable to future threats such as habitat loss.Top
Vogelkop bowerbird conservation
While there are no known specific conservation efforts aimed at the Vogelkop bowerbird, people living near the Arfak range of this species are said to avoid destroying the bowers (2).Top
Find out more
Find out more about the Vogelkop bowerbird:
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:
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.