Kalang’s Carol Seidl has bird-lovers and ornitholigical experts excited - very excited. From her front yard two weeks ago, she photographed an unusual and unfamiliar bird; the Rawnsley bowerbird.
Unbeknown to Carol, her image is only the second time such a bird has been captured on camera.
“To be honest I didn’t know what I was taking a picture of, but it caught my eye,” Carol said.
“It came up onto my patio, and I thought it’s not really a regent but it’s not really a satin and afterwards I called my friend Kim and she did a bit of looking and read about it on Wikipedia and she said ‘wow, this is really rare’. It’s all quite exciting!”
Carol posted the image on social media and it was then she began to realise the bird’s rarity. After making inquiries with the Australian Museum, various experts became involved, notably Clifford Frith who told Carol the Rawnsley bowerbird had been sighted twice before, once in 1867 and again in 2004, both in Queensland.
The rare bowerbird is a result of hybridisation between the satin bowerbird and the regent bowerbird. Both bird species are promiscuous and breed polygynously (meaning one male mates with more than one female) and the result is a bird with a predominately all-glossy blue-black satin bowerbird appearance but has a yellow-wing patch and fine yellow tipping to some tail feathers - the trademark colour of the regent bowerbird.
The genus confusion arises because the juvenile female regent and satin bowerbirds can look alike, paving the way for the male bowerbird confusing genus.
Carol said the finding had opened a “whole world that I didn’t know existed” and made her realise she takes “for granted, here in the Kalang, how many bird species we have and how lucky we are”.
The sighting may not be the end of the matter as Cliff has advised Carol the bird is a mature male and it probably has a bower somewhere near her residence.
If anyone in the community suspects they’ve seen this bird, contact Clifford Frith at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 07 4096-8105. Otherwise more information on the Rawnsley bowerbird can be found at www.birdimages.com.au.