Birds of Australia continues this month with a superb 1/2oz silver proof coin dedicated to the Regent Bowerbird.
Of elegant appearance with handsome black and gold plumage, the Regent Bowerbird is named after the Prince Regent, who in 1820 became King George IV.
Renowned for his mistresses and the exotic decoration of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, the Regent was an apt choice for this charming inhabitant of the Australian rainforest.
The decorated bower
When a male bowerbird is looking for a mate he is compelled to build a bower on the forest floor to impress her.
At their most ingenious, bowers are sophisticated constructions that may take many months to build. Woven from twigs and leaves, they take shape as an ‘avenue’ – two parallel, vertical walls of twigs; or a ‘maypole’, which varies in complexity from a single spire of sticks to elaborate roofed huts.
But his building skills alone are not enough. Just as important to a female are the colourful adornments her prospective partner has arranged artistically throughout the bower site.
To this end, bowerbirds are insatiable collectors of flowers, feathers, shells, stones, berries and even man-made shiny trinkets.
Regent Bowerbird’s style
The Regent Bowerbird builds an avenue style of bower, in which he places mainly red, brown and yellow adornments. To this princely pleasure palace he may add further splashes of colour by ‘painting’ the walls with a mixture of saliva and the juice of crushed leaves.
On top of all this effort, the Regent Bowerbird must also perform an elaborate dance to finally attract a female to his bower for mating! And when it’s over, the female goes off to build a nest and raise the young by herself, leaving the male to continue once more his “wicked wooing way”.