There were never any blue pegs in mum’s pegs basket. We had a massive hills hoist clothesline in the backyard, mum had a permanent peg bag that hung from one of the corners filled with multi-coloured plastic pegs. All the colours, green, orange, yellow, red, white, pink, purple… But never blue. And I never really noticed this (possibly more so because Mum took on the vast majority of the household domestic duties of hanging out and bringing in the washing – and we still get spoilt with this when Mum comes to visit our home at Tambella, thanks Mum! We love you!). I never really noticed, not until Dad took my sister and I down to the Southern ridge on our property, parted some lantana and showed us the bowerbird bower nestled in the undergrowth, surrounded by dozens of blue pegs and other paraphernalia.
The Satin Bowerbird is endemic to the Eastern and South East coast of Australia. Males are a stunning deep velvety blue colour with a violet coloured eye. They are strikingly beautiful. They are also fascinatingly eccentric, in that the males collect anything that is blue to decorate their “bower” to attract females.
Thus, Mum’s pegs, had suddenly become a very valuable commodity in the Bowerbird world, back when I was a pre teen.
Since moving to Tambella, we’ve been lucky enough to have Bowerbirds nest on our property also, and I’ve delighted in showing my boys the elaborate bower this bird creates (I’m not sure they quite share the same sense of wonder as I did, but I’m getting a kick out of it regardless.)
Bowerbirds construct their bower out of twigs, which are ‘planted’, standing upright to create a unique gateway. Sometimes the bowerbird will go to the trouble of finding ash that it carries back in its mouth and then ‘paints’ the inner twigs with the ash mixed with their saliva. They then meticulously set about decorating around the gateway with all manner of found objects that are blue. Apparently this unique collection and display gets lady bowerbirds wildly in the mood and thus they mate and start over the whole circle of life thing.
Our bowerbird loves decorating his bower with all manner of found objects from blue ribbon, flowers, wrappers and the odd peg, to create the perfect boudoir from which to impress the ladies. I’ve created Regent Bowerbirds previously, however i think it might be time to be making one of these beauties.