Bowerbirds: Meet the Bird World’s Kleptomaniac Architects

Justine E. Hausheer in Cool Green Science:

It looked like a tiny shrine on the forest floor: Bare ground clear of debris. Two walls of sticks, bending towards one another. Blue feathers and bottle caps arranged in a wide arc. And a small plastic doll, splayed in the center of the structure, eyes wide and mouth open in a plastic scream.

But this wasn’t the scene of some pagan ritual in miniature. I’d stumbled upon the bower of a satin bowerbird.

Found throughout Australia and New Guinea, bowerbirds are famous for the elaborate and sometimes whimsical structures that males build to court females. These bowers are the largest and most elaborately decorated structure built by any animal — except humans.

More here.