The bowerbirds (family Ptilonorhynchidae) are famed for their unique bower-building behaviour. In some species, the bower can be a complex construction of sticks and other vegetable matter that can grow to two metres in diameter and one-and-a-half metres high. Many species are also accomplished mimics, and are able to copy the calls of other bird species, other natural and mechanical sounds and even human speech.
The bowerbirds are confined to Australia and New Guinea and, due to the difficulty in accessing certain areas of their distribution, the study of their habits has been challenging. The 20 existing species are almost equally divided between the two regions, with eight species endemic to Australia, 10 to New Guinea and two species occurring in both.
Bowerbirds condenses published knowledge into a format that will suit natural history enthusiasts at any level. While the emphasis is on Australian members of the family, with detailed accounts on each of the 10 species, the New Guinea representatives are discussed in general chapters and are included in a supplemental section that covers key areas such as breeding, identification and distribution.
This book also includes more than 50 illustrations, including colour pictures of each Australian species, their bowers, displays and distributional maps.
Classification and Morphology
Habitat, Distribution and Conservation
Bower Evolution and Sexual Behaviour
"... this book was a pleasure to read and will sit comfortably within any bird enthusiasts reference library. I found it easy to approach, informative and a glowing tribute to Peter Rowland’s passion for our feathered bower-building friends."
Robbie Burns, Land for Wildlife South East Queensland, July 2009
"The first thing that struck me when I was reviewing this book was the incredible amount of work that Peter has put into his research The text is full of informative and interesting facts, backed with plenty of scientific research. So often, books with this much information are quite laborious to read but this definitely isn’t the case with Peter’s book. As a natural history writer and nature photographer myself, with a special love for birds, this book will be a welcome addition to my collection." Michael Snedic, The Victorian Naturalist, June 2009
"Rowland's Bowerbirds is a worthy addition to the literature on the Ptilorhynchidae, and the colour photographs beautifully capture the engaging nature of these birds. Written in an accessible, readable style, it is an ideal introduction for anyone who wants to learn more about a mesmerizing avian family." Laura A. Kelley, IBIS, January 2009
"Overall, this is a widely accessible book on the natural histories, behaviours, and various species of bowerbirds that shall go a long way to attract current interest in this group of birds from birdwatchers, natural historians, and scientists alike."
Mark Hauber, Ornithological Society of New Zealand journal Notornis, 2009
"This book contains excellent photographs . . . is easy to read and an informative field guide for the bower bird species." Robert Skeet, WA Naturalist News, October 2008
"Anyone interested in the bowerbirds will want this book!" Birdbooker Report 66: Living the Scientific Life
Peter Rowland worked periodically for the bird and reptile departments at the Australian Museum from 1983 to 2003, and has travelled throughout Australia, New Caledonia and the United Kingdom, studying and photographing wildlife. Peter has written two books and five scientific articles on the birds of Australia and New Guinea, and has contributed written and photographic material to many other publications. In 1998 Peter was a recipient of a Whitley Award for literature.