Work comes before play so first thing we went surfing! Gotta keep those arm muscles in shape. Following that prescription for fine health, we donned our bowerbird gear and drove into the bush with surfboards on the roof rack. Did a bit of habitat mapping along a dirt track we’d noticed on the topo map. To our surprise, the woods were pretty quiet and we didn’t see nary a bowerbird until we got back into familiar territory at the exit point to a beautiful rainforest valley that we kind of call home.
My current belief in bowerbird distribution is that they need access to water, don’t like ridges where there are often fire roads, and they prefer valley floors especially where a solid rain forest meets cleared land such as a cow pasture. But it is also too easy to get fooled. We have found them behind a campground in the scrub, down a logged hillside stuffed in the invasive lantana thickets, along side a parking lot at a beachside car park, two hours drive from the coast in dry forests perched near the rim of a fabulous canyon, and three feet from the asphalt edge of a country road.
Finding their bowers takes a lot of work. We look, listen, walk, sit, come back another day, drive around, and even sigh. Even when you see good sign, such as seeing a male bird swoop down into the forest, you can come up dry. I don’t think I have ever just blundered into a bowerbird’s bower by accident. In this respect bower hunting is very different from an Easter Egg hunt! But in many ways the rewards are similar. There is always a smile in the end when you strike it rich!