CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Emu   
  Journal of BirdLife Australia
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Research Fronts
Rowley Reviews
Virtual Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Submit Article
Author Instructions
Open Access
Awards and Prizes
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates
Library Recommendation

red arrow Complete Archive
blank image
With the complete digital archive of Emu now online, we have selected some of the most interesting and significant papers for readers to access freely.

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with BirdLife
blank image
facebook TwitterIcon LinkedIn

red arrow Connect with CP
blank image
facebook twitter logo LinkedIn


Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 106(3)

Theft of bower decorations among male Satin Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus): why are some decorations more popular than others?

Janine M. Wojcieszek A C, James A. Nicholls A D, N. Justin Marshall B, Anne W. Goldizen A E

A School of Integrative Biology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.
B Vision, Touch and Hearing Research Centre, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.
C Present address: Department of Terrestrial Invertebrates, Western Australian Museum, Locked Bag 49, Welshpool, D. C. Perth, WA 6986, Australia.
D Present address: Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, United Kingdom.
E Corresponding author. Email: a.goldizen@uq.edu.au
PDF (283 KB) $25
 Export Citation


Male Satin Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) build stick structures known as bowers that serve as the focus for courtships and matings. Males decorate their bowers with numerous coloured decorations and are known to steal these decorations from one another. We investigated the stealing of bower decorations among males at the Bunya Mountains in Queensland, Australia. We aimed to (1) determine which classes of decorations were targets for theft in the studied population, and (2) examine whether the frequency at which individual decorations were stolen related to their intrinsic properties. To address our first aim, all decorations on the bowers of 21 adult males were labelled and their movements tracked throughout one mating season. To address our second aim, decorations stolen at least three times during the season were collected and their morphological and reflectance properties compared to those of decorations that were not stolen. In terms of the classes of decorations, tail feathers of Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) were stolen more than any other class of decoration, but blue plastic bottletops were the most popular decorations relative to their availability on bowers. Frequently stolen individual decorations were similar to non-stolen items in their weights and surface areas, but were darker blue in colour than the decorations never stolen. Both bottletops and feathers reflected higher levels of ultraviolet (UV) light than did all other classes of bower decorations tested, thus suggesting that males may be using UV reflectance in sexual signalling. The darker blue, stolen decorations may increase contrast between the decoration collection and the platform, while the UV-reflecting subset of most frequently stolen decorations (bottletops and feathers) may increase contrast within the decoration collection. This in turn may increase the attractiveness of the display to females.

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2016