Bowersbirds occur in Australia and New Guinea. They are known for their unique courtship behaviour, where males build a structure and decorate it. A behavior that probably evolved twice (Ericson et al., 2020). Hybridization has been documented in four genera (Amblyornis, Sericulus, Ptilonorhynchus and Chlamydera). But only the genus Sericulus has been subjected to more detailed genetic analyses (Zwiers et al., 2008).

On 14 July 1867, Henry Charles Rawnsley shot a bowerbird at his house near Brisbane, Queensland (Australia). This specimen was later used to describe a new species: the Rawnsley’s Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus rawnsleyi). A review of this specimen led to the conclusion that it was a hybrid between Regent Bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus) and Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus). Recently, a second specimen of this ‘species’ has been observed at Beechmont (Frith, 2006; 2016).

Regent Bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus)

Regent Bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus)


Ericson, P. G., Irestedt, M., Nylander, J. A., Christidis, L., Joseph, L., & Qu, Y. (2020). Parallel Evolution of Bower-Building Behavior in Two Groups of Bowerbirds Suggested by Phylogenomics. Systematic Biology, 69(5): 820-829.

Frith, C. B. (2006). A history and reassessment of the unique but missing specimen of Rawnsley’s Bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus rawnsleyi, Diggles 1867,(Aves: Ptilonorhynchidae). Historical Biology 18, 57-68.

Frith, C. B. (2016). A second living ‘Rawnsley’s Bowerbird’-a wild adult male hybrid from a Regent Bowerbird’Sericulus chrysocephalus’ Satin Bowerbird’Ptilonorhynchus violaceus’ cross. Australian Field Ornithology 33, 14.

Zwiers, P. B., Borgia, G. & Fleischer, R. C. (2008). Plumage based classification of the bowerbird genus Sericulus evaluated using a multi-gene, multi-genome analysis. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 46, 923-931.

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