Discovery's Life Series: Bird Mating

A cameraman in the field     Photo: Courtesy of Nadia Klier/Music Box Films

SCENE: VOGELKOP BOWERBIRDS MATING
LOCATION: PAPUA NEW GUINEA
CAMERAMAN: BARRIE BRITTON, 47
"We were on the Vogelkop Peninsula, on the western end of New Guinea. It was a three-day hike to our camp in the cloud­forest. Bowerbirds are small, drab birds famous for building huts and collecting ornaments to adorn them. The first time I saw one of their bowers, I thought it was made by humans. It looks like a thatched hut three feet high and three feet wide. The tricky thing was figuring out which bower to concentrate on. Two looked impressive. One bird had orange flowers, berries, and fungi. The other guy had red flowers, black fungus, this huge pile of deer droppings. I concentrated on the orange bower. My colleague waited with the guy with the red flowers. The day we switched, my colleague saw birds mating at the orange bower! Thereafter I waited at the bower with orange flowers ten hours a day. In our last week a female came down and the male ran inside and hid. He started singing this amazing song, using the bower to amplify the sound. She came in. When she was ready, he came out with his wings spread, like Dracula, and mated with her."

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