"The most notable characteristic of bowerbirds is the extraordinarily complex behaviour of males, which is to build a bower to attract mates. Depending on the species, the bower ranges from a circle of cleared earth with a small pile of twigs in the center to a complex and highly decorated structure of sticks and leaves — usually shaped like a walkway, a small hut or a maypole — into and around which the male places a variety of objects he has collected. These objects — usually of a hue to which the male in question is particularly attracted — may include hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, berries, and even discarded plastic items or pieces of glass. The bird spends hours carefully sorting and arranging his collection, with each object in a specific place; if an object is moved while the bowerbird is away he will put it back in its place. No two bowers are the same, and the collection of objects reflects the personal taste of each bird and its ability to procure unusual and rare items (going as far as stealing them from neighboring bowers). At mating time, the female will go from bower to bower, watching as the male owner conducts an often elaborate mating ritual and inspecting the quality of the bower. Many females end up selecting the same male, and many under-performing males are left without mates.
In a striking example of what is known as the "transfer effect," bowerbird species that build the most elaborate bowers are dull in color and show little variation between male and female, whereas in bowerbird species with less elaborate bowers the males have bright plumage. Presumably, evolution has "transferred" the reproductive benefits of bright male plumage (common among polygamous birds) to elaborate bowers, allowing males to display their fitness by means other than physical characteristics that would appear to attract predation.
This complex mating behaviour, with highly valued types and colors, and decorations that, in many species, vary in attractiveness from year to year like fashion trends, has led some researchers[who?] to regard the bowerbirds as the most advanced of any species of bird. It also provides some of the most compelling evidence that the extended phenotype of a species can play a role in sexual selection and indeed act as a powerful mechanism to shape its evolution, as seems to be the case for humans.
In addition, many species of bowerbird are superb vocal mimics. Macgregor's Bowerbird, for example, has been observed imitating pigs, waterfalls, and human chatter."