Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bower Bird from Tropical rainforest of Arfak Mountains

by Charles Roring
The tropical rainforest of the bird's head region in the Arfak mountains of Manokwari regency has been an interesting destination for tourists who want to watch bower birds. Vogelkop bower bird is an endemic species of Arfak mountains. This species does not have beautiful plume or feather compared to birds of paradise but it has got several unique characteristics which attract a lot of birders to come to West Papua just to see it. The male bower birds build arch structures made of twigs and dry grasses and decorate them with bright colored articles such as fruits, flowers (and recently plastic wastes) to attract female bower birds.
To see those vogelkop bower birds, first, tourists must fly to Manokwari city (the capital of West Papua province in the Republic of Indonesia). After taking a rest for one or two days and buying food supplies in the city, tourists can continue their trip to Arfak mountains that are still covered with tropical rainforest but are increasingly facing deforestation. The villages that have become the destination for watching the bower birds are Kwau and Syioubri. These two neighboring villages are located at higher elevation region of Arfak mountains. It takes around two hours car ride to reach one of the villages.
The above video made by a Dutch tourist, Lian Schepers, shows how a male bower bird decorates his bower with plastic articles which he finds from the nearby area roads and villages. It is sad to see that the articles were plastic wastes instead of fresh flowers or fruits. Therefore, we advice tourists and villagers to wisely handle their plastic wastes while hiking through the rainforest of Arfak mountains so that the bower birds will not pick them up and use them for their display stage decoration. Besides watching the bower birds, tourists can also see the magnificent birds of paradise, Western parotia, spotted catbird, pitohui and many other species of birds that are endemic to Papua island. 
I compiled the photographs and videos of Arfak mountains and the bower birds to promote ecotourism in Manokwari. I hope that ecotourism can provide alternative jobs to the indigenous Papuan people in Arfak mountains so that they will not be tempted to sell their lands to investors who will exploit the timber and clear the land for monoculture palm oil plantation. To book a rainforest to in Manokwari, please, contact me by email to

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