2nd AUGUST 2023: One of the attractions of my recent trip to West Papua was the opportunity to view some of the Birds of Paradise and other endemic birds from hides established at leks or display sites. One of the first hides visited was a short walk from the village of Minggre in the Arfak Mountains and was to the site of a Vogelkop bowerbird. Compared to the other endemics, not the most striking bird but what it lacked in colour was more than made up for with its architectural brilliance! These bowers are built by the males with the sole purpose of attracting a mate. If they are successful, the female will build a nest and incubate and feed the young herself – the male takes no part in rearing the young.

Only found in the montane regions of West Papua, this bird is described as relatively common and heard relatively often during our stay and seen briefly a couple of times whilst in other hides. This was the only time we had a prolonged view of this species however.

The bird showed well for the whole time we were at the hide (around an hour). This probably wasn’t luck as bowerbirds tend to spend most of their time around their bowers either to ensure they are around if they get a visit from a prospective female but also to ensure their structure isn’t sabotaged by a rival male. This male spent most of his time on perches overlooking the bower, calling or finessing the structure or his ‘collections’.

The hide we used was relatively big and comfortably held our party of 6 and was visited in the early afternoon.

There were a number of bowers in the area – this one was right next to a path down tio the parotia hide and contained a more ‘natural’ collection than the blue themed bower photographed above. However, without a hide, the owner of this bower remained unseen by us. These structures only take a month or so to build although the collections are constantly added to.

Number of visits to hide: 1

Total time spent in hide: 1 hour

Total time spent getting to/from hide: 1 hour

Other birds seen on day: Mountain Owlet Nightjar, Vogelkop Owlet Nightjar, Glossy Swiftlet, Uniform Swiftlet, Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Pink Spotted Fruit-Dove, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Grey-Headed Goshawk, Blyth’s Hornbill, Oriental Hobby, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, Papuan Eclectus, Coconut Lorikeet, New Guinea Friarbird, Tawny-Breasted Honeyeater, Northern Variable Pitohui, Spangled Drone, Northern Fantail, Black Sicklebill, Slaty Robin, Pacific Swallow, Black Sunbird, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Streak Headed Mannikin

Next day’s report: Western Parotia (Arfak Mountains)

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