Karrke is the name for the Western Bowerbird in the Central Australia Arrente language.
The Western Bowerbird (Chlamydera guttata) inhabits gorges and rocky hills, in semi-arid regions where native figs are found. Some species adapted to areas with dry, open scrub and woodland. They can also be seen around some of the bush lands surrounding Alice Springs and other communities. Their range include the desert region of Central Northern Territory and north-west region of Western Australia, often near permanent waterholes.
The Western Bowerbird has beautiful scalloped plumage, the top side ranging from dark brown to almost black with irregular colour pattern of spots ranging from a light fawn through to orange brown. Its underside and front plumage is a buff / light fawn colour.
The Western Bowerbird has a characteristic erectile iridescent lilac/pink nape crest (nuchal crest), which is smaller in the female and less of a marked lilac/pink crest. When performing in front of female birds, the male lilac/pink crest becomes erect and fans out sideways, with the colour of the fringe visible behind its eyes, when viewed from the front. The immature bird lacks the crest.
The Western Bowerbird is an adventurous eater. They feed on the fruits of the rock fig, sandalwood, mistletoes and snake gourd. They are also known to eat cultivated fruit including guava, paw paw and pomegranate. Their diet also includes flowers, nectar and various insects. They require access to a regular water source, and can often be seen drinking from bird baths, sprinklers and dripping taps.
They have a loud harsh call. When displaying in and around the bower, the call varies from a churring, grinding sound, through to the sounds of a feral cat.
Australia has eight species of Bower Birds of which includes the Western Bowerbird. There are two subspecies of western bowerbirds endemic to Australia with a disjunct distribution across the continent. The nominate race Chlamydera guttata guttata is found in the southern Northern Territory (frequently seen in Alice Springs), to just north of the tropic of Capricorn, south of the border with South Australia and into a limited area into central eastern Western Australia. They are also found in large areas of the interior of WA. The other nominate race C. guttata carteri is only found on the North West Cape in WA.
Western Bowerbird, karrke (Aranda language)
- Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Passeriformes
- Family: Ptilonorhynchidae
- Genus: Chlamydera
- Species: C. guttata
- Binomial name: Chlamydera guttata
More information about the Western Bowerbird can be found on Alice Springs Desert Park Western Bowerbird, Olive Pink Botanic Garden Western Bowerbird, Watarrka National Park Western Bowerbird and our blog Treasures of our Western Bowerbird.