The Vogelkorp Bowerbirds: All About The Flying Architects of West Papua

Meta description: Want to know why Vogelkop Bowerbirds are called “The Flying Architects” and “The Flying Engineers” of West Papua? Here are the very reasons why.

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Papua and West Papua are both rich with a diversity of wild plants and animals. One of the West Papuan endemic animals is called Vogelkorp Bowerbird. What kind of a species is it? Why is it called “The Flying Architect” of West Papua?

About Vogelkorp Bowerbird


The Arfak Mountain is the home of many endemic wild animals on this island. They are all there, from the ones on the ground to the flying ones in the sky. The mountain is 90 km to the east of Manokwari, the capital city of West Papua.

According to the Nature Conservation Agency of West Papua, 110 mammals and 320 different species of birds live in Arfak Mountain. For example, the black tree kangaroo, birds of paradise (cendrawasih), birdwing butterflies (the largest butterflies on earth), cuscus, and last but not least, the Vogelkorp Bowerbird.

There are different names for this type of bird. Some may call it Papuan Bowerbird, while others call it “Namdur Bird.” The locals even call it ‘Mbrecew Bird,’ which means “smart bird.” There is a wide range of vocalizations that these birds have. They either utter chatter loudly or cackle like noisy hens.

Speaking of that, these birds also know how to imitate the sound of some other animals. They can copy the mewling of cats and the sound of other birds. In fact, Vogelkorp Bowerbirds can do the voices of predatory birds when they feel threatened or scared.

In short, the male species of this bird calls out at the bowers, while the female sings out the tunes at the nest when she feels threatened or scared. As medium-sized birds, Vogelkorp Bowerbirds vary in length, from 21 to 35 centimetres. Their color is mostly olive-brown. They live in the forest at the foot of the hill.

Why This Bird Species Is Called “The Flying Architect” of West Papua–960×959.jpg

The reason is the male birds’ ability to create a complex structure of a bower. If they are humans, imagine a man building a house as solid but as beautiful as possible to attract a potential future partner in a woman. The house is later used as their “love nest” when a woman is attracted to him, and the two agree to stay together and start their own family.

That is almost the same case with Vogelkorp Bowerbird, but not quite. The bowers are only for the temporary love nest, unlike humans. 

The complicated bowers the male ones create will become a display during their mating ritual with their female counterparts. The unique part about them is that they build the bowers on the ground instead of atop the trees. Even the shape of them looks like a human house.

So, how do these male birds create their “love nest”? First, they collect twigs from trees, leaves, gravel, and dried grass. They put them in one place before turning them into a building structure. The bower is generally a meter high and very wide. There are three parts of the bower, though.

The first is the dome for the birds to go through. The second is the main area. There are large leaves put upside down or tiled with rocks. The third is the pole using a sapling for a central tower. There is an assortment of packed veggies around the base. Depending on the weather, the male birds may need a week to a couple of months to finish the bower.

Apparently, this also gives them another nickname, which is “The Flying Engineer.” As “The Flying Architects,” Vogelkorp Bowerbirds also know how to dress up the exterior and interior with discarded objects left by humans. This is why they also collect used plastic bottles, bottle caps, seeds, plastic, dried fruit skins, and many more they may find useful for their bowers.

There are times when the male species of this bird act like bodybuilders. They can carry heavier objects than the size of their bodies. They also group their stash according to color. It is still a wonder why they pick blue as their favorite color. The more beautiful the bower is, the easier it is for them to attract the female of the species.

For an extra effort, the males also dance and sing—in their birdlike fashion, of course—in order to attract the females. The interested female will approach the bower, which interests her the most.

After the mating ritual finishes, the female usually leaves. Then, the owner of the bowers will stop dancing and singing and start rearranging everything. They prepare for their next performance to woo another female.

So, where is their real nest?

The males and females of these birds have their own nests, despite being in a higher location—like in a tree hole. Females build their nests to lay their eggs before incubating and feeding the baby birds.

Now you know why Vogelkop Bowerbirds are called “The Flying Architects” of West Papua.