The Bowerbird – a poem

I was scrolling through the Instagram feed yesterday when this brightly colourful post by imagination.mama caught my eye;

Cue the memories! Because I might know a think about that… In fact, I may have even written a poem or two when my boys were in preschool.

For my international Poetry Friday friends, bowerbirds are endemic to Australia and Papua New Guinea. There are a number of varieties, but I’ll link you toย Graeme Chapman‘s page of photos – where you can see pics of the maleย Satin Bowerbirdย and his collection of blue treasures. Andย David Attenborough’s BBCย video, showing the elaborate bower created. (It’s astonishing!)

A lot of years have passed since that poem was written… but not much has changed. The bowerbirds still make something out of nothing – and I can’t regret it! Having seen the benefits of creativity and problem-solving throughout the years, and the complexity of the projects they now undertake, I am quick to extol the virtues of creative play and recycled projects at a very young age. If there is one thing I did well as a mother, it was to feed my bowerbirds! And I’m thrilled that kids are starting to be inspired to play and be creative, through my author visits.

‘You said to go home and make things with boxes… so we did!’

To squeeze more poetry into your weekend, be sure to visit Heidi at her juicy little universe, where you’ll find the full round-up of the links. Thanks, Heidi!


  1. I can relate, Kathryn! I still hate to toss toilet paper rolls (Spy glasses! Hair curlers! Tractor wheels!) and I fondly remember my father carefully saving us the wonderful white, stiff cardboard that the cleaners tucked into his laundered shirts–ahhh.


  2. Boy, I didn’t know what they were called (thank you for teaching me about bowerbirds), but I had a house full of them–I might even have those tendencies myself. Even though the piles my tower, I cherish the memories made and creativity shared.


    • Yep, sounds like you have a population of bowerbirds, Kay. From my experience, they’re not all as organised (or tidy) as the feathered variety – but who can contain creativity?


  3. Being a retired teacher, I am grateful that I have young granddaughters. I still have a tough time throwing “things” away, Kat. This is wonderful. We learn many kinds of things from nature!


  4. It’s funny, but your poem totally belies your belief! Bowerbirding is the very best form of recycling, if you ask me, and you’re reminding me to make more room for this in my classroom and in my school. Love those cardboard creations in front of your name. Is that a model Aussie teacher kneeling between them?


    • That would the the Aussie tongue-in-cheek humour at work, Heidi. ๐Ÿ˜‰ As to the model Aussie teacher… I think not. That would be me – when I was not actually being a teacher OR an author. Well – I was being an author – but not presenting that day. I called in quickly at the school on the morning after my visit, before skipping off to meet with an illustrator friend for coffee… and then a University lecturer for research. So, seeing their creativity was a delightful bonus!


  5. I have never heard of a Bowerbird. Now i know what they are. I love the idea of what you saw as trashed being extolled by the bird, reminds me of the idea of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Enjoyed your poetry sharing! thanks.


  6. What a delightful post — fun to see that little gnome and then your bowerbird poem (thanks for teaching me about them!). Creative play, recycling, making something out of nothing are all good things. ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. Oh, my goodness….this resonates with me a little too closely. My youngest is 13 and he still raids the recycle bin for cardboard. I have so many homemade swords around my house….it isn’t funny. I keep trying to throw them away under cover of darkness. But, I’m found out most times! What a wonderful capture this poem is. Thank you for sharing it!


    • I tend to be a bigger hoarder than my kids. We have boxes filled with their treasures. For them, the fun is in the making – then move on. It’s Mum who attaches memories and sentiment to the objects…


  8. Sweet bed in a tea box, and excellent cardboard knights! I had to get rid of things that seem like they should be reused (Altoids boxes, for instance). I guess there are a lot of us with bowerbird tendencies!


  9. Do they call the bowerbird the blue booby, too? Last week someone posted a poem about the blue booby, a bird that collected blue treasures, and when I googled it, I just found the blue footed booby, which didn’t seem to do that at all. Hmmm…

    I love the recycling! I remember taking old envelopes out of the trash when I was a child and opening them all up to make paper for writing stories.



  10. I like that “bowerbirding” seems to have been made into a verb here! It’s a good way to be, and a good way to raise kids!!


  11. So well put, Kat! Just today a friend and I were bemoaning the specializing of Lego. When my kids were little, we just got a set of plain Lego but they could still figure out how to make space ships, houses, and vehicles even without the specialty parts. Up with imagination!


  12. Your poem is so much fun to read, Kat. The concept of play is very much on the horizon in early literacy and I see you enjoyed it as well as you wrote. Your children seem to be highly engaged in the creative aspects of play as well.


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