Animal Architect: The Vogelkop Bowerbird 

When we think of impressive architecture, we rarely think of animals.

The Vogelkop Bowerbird is one of many designers within the animal kingdom, but is by far one of the most notable. These birds are found in Indonesia, and are named after the shelters they build to attract a mate. Male bowerbirds design, construct, and decorate an elaborate love nest called a "bower," which is made of bent twigs and found objects.  

Each bower is carefully built with strategic planning and woven construction techniques. Bowerbirds build very unique compositions, but there are two main kinds of bower structures. One is a cone-shaped hut that is attached to a sapling. This design utilized two column-like sticks and has an arched entrance. The second bower is more like a tunnel; the sticks are lined parallel to one another creating an elongated shelter. The core design is minimalistic and aesthetically sophisticated, but the true creativity comes after the architecture is completed. The interior design and color palette really gives the uniqueness that differentiates the males. 

The bowerbird landscapes a front lawn by clearing debris and places brightly colored knickknacks like glass, shells, berries, stones, flowers, and discarded plastics around the territory. Males select objects depending on which female they are trying to impress. These objects are placed thoughtfully in piles of similar color, shape, texture, and purpose. Sometimes they're even placed from smallest to largest, which creates an optical illusion to amaze females! The male bowerbirds artistically arrange their gifts as a finishing touch, as they prepare for the final critique of their convoluted gesture. 

The natural world continues to influence design; even the smallest of structures lost in the vast forest. I love looking for unusual inspiration - these little designers are incredible!

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright


Zandy Seager, Designer