What the flame bowerbird can do with its eyes is mesmerising


Bec Crew


Bec Crew

Bec Crew is a Sydney-based science communicator with a love for weird and wonderful animals. From strange behaviours and special adaptations to newly discovered species and the researchers who find them, her topics celebrate how alien yet relatable so many of the creatures that live amongst us can be.
By Bec Crew 13 July 2020
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It’s all about the eyes with the flame bowerbird.

WHEN IT COMES to attracting females, male bowerbirds have a number of tricks up their sleeve.

The most well-known is their intricately built nest (or bower), strewn with an array of brightly coloured objects. Some species, such as the regent bowerbird, also have brilliantly coloured plumage to help them stand out.

The flame bowerbird (Sericulus ardens) has bowers and bright colours and more, because for this flirtatious fellow, it’s all about the eyes.

Related: The banded broadbill looks like a kookaburra got attacked with a paintbrush

Hailing from the rainforests of New Guinea, the flame bowerbird is immediately identified by its sunset colours, its crimson top half bleeding into its orange and yellow lower half, its wings and tail dipped in inky black.

At first glance, its bright yellow eyes are beautiful, but when this bird is full courtship mode, they’re nothing short of hypnotic.

As you can see in the footage below, the flame bowerbird can pulse his pupil size to attract a mate:

It barely even looks real.

A close relative of the flame bowerbird is the masked bowerbird (Sericulus aureus), also endemic to New Guinea.

Related: Meet the rainbow serpent: the white-lipped python

Like the flame bowerbird, the masked bowerbird has sunset-coloured plumage, but it also wears a great black mask around its eyes and neck:

While the flame bowerbird, the masked bowerbird, and the regent bowerbird all have bright yellow eyes, other species have colour schemes of their own.

The green catbird, found along the east coast of Australia, has rich chestnut-coloured eyes.

Satin bowerbird males have violet irises and the females boast the most incredible royal blue:

(Image credit: benjamint444/Wikimedia)

We’ve leave you with this footage of a masked bowerbird, spruiking his wears to not one, but two (seemingly uninterested) females: