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Great Bowerbird - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Great Grey Bowerbird; Lilac-naped Bowerbird

Photo by lima
Wangi Falls, Kakadu, Australia, June 2006
Chlamydera nuchalis

Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis


35cm (13¾ in). The biggest bowerbird.

  • Brownish-grey plumage, slightly darker and greyer on chin, throat, upper breast and upperparts
  • Variably finely spotted with a darker colour and a silvery colour
  • Pinkish-mauve erectile filamentous crest, mostly hidden
  • Dark brown wings and tail with whitish tips and some darker bars
  • Dark brown eye
  • Blackish bill
  • Olive-brown legs

Females are similar but they lack the pink crest (older females may have a small one).
Juveniles have a pale buff spotted mantle, back and rump.


Endemic to northern Australia.
Locally common to fairly common.

Male and female in the bower
Photo by Dwaalgast
Mareeba, Queensland, Australia, April 2007



Two subspecies recognized:

One hybrid with Spotted Bowerbird recorded.


Favours eucalypt forest and woodland near rivers. Also found in suburbs and gardens. Occurs from sea-level up to 600m.



Feeds on fruits (mainly figs), flowers, nectar, green vegetables, insects, seeds and food scraps.
Forages in trees, sometimes also on the ground. Usually seen singly or in pairs, outside breeding season also in bigger flocks of up to 30 birds.


Breeding recorded in all months except April and June. A polygynous species. The male builds and attends a bower to attract females. They build a nest alone and also breed alone.
The avenue bower is errected under a bush and the same site may be used for many years. The sticks on both sides meet and form a tunnel. It's decorated with white or grey snail shells, mammal bones, green fruits, some red or reddish items and many other things. When the female arrives the male performs a courtship display.
The nest is a saucer made of sticks and twigs and placed 2 - 9m above the ground in a bush or tree. Lays 1 - 2 eggs.


A resident species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

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