Flame Bowerbird – The First Flame
Accepting and receiving love and gifts. Going the extra mile. Above and beyond. Beginnings. The first flame. The first step. Making something for others. Positive materialism. Care of possessions. Homemaking. Romance and courtship. Wooing. Art and architecture. Creating your love. Externalising your love. Complexity.
The flame bowerbird (Sericulus ardens), also known as the golden bowerbird is the most brilliantly coloured of all the bowerbirds, with flame coloured plumage. It’s endemic to the mountainous rainforests of New Guinea. Despite being striking in appearance, there is little known about them. The courtship has only been filmed in the last two decades, and they are often living in impenetrable rainforest.
Like most bowerbirds, the male creates a bower with sticks on two sides, in an avenue shape, designed to draw the female through the middle, it will sometimes be decorated with objects, though not as often as other bowerbirds will object-decorate their bowers. The male performs a complex courtship display that both shows off the bower, as well as his own brilliant plumage. Males will spend hours practicing their dances, as well as maintaining their bowers, and arranging objects and twigs for maximum impact.
Males will usually decorate bowers with individual biases for what they prefer or find most aesthetic or significant. The most popular males with the best bowers will often mate with many females, and those males who aren’t up to par often do not mate at all. Additionally, male bowerbirds are very sensitive to female signs of discomfort or disinterest by modifying and downscaling the intensity of their courtship behaviour, which suggests the bower partially evolved as a way of giving the female the chance to escape forced copulation. The chance of successful mating is not predicated on male courtship intensity, but instead the bower itself, and the male’s ability to be sensitive to the female’s responses to him.
Females are olive brown in colouration, and after visiting several bowers and selecting a mate, incubates a single egg and raises the chick on her own. Bowerbird eggs are often twice the weight of similar songbirds around the same size. The flame bowerbird, like other bowerbirds, has among the longest lifespan of any songbird, living for well over a decade and sometimes into their late twenties. They are excellent vocal mimics, copying humans, mammals, waterfalls, other bird species and more. Some researchers believe that bowerbirds are the most behaviourally complex species of bird.