The Great Bower Building Experiment

Bower birds are known for building ornate structures to impress potential mates. Their bowers come in lots of different styles, with their surroundings often decorated with colourful items.


We worked with animal perception and bower bird researcher Dr. Laura Kelley. Researchers still don't know much about how these birds build their bowers, so we took an experimental approach and asked people to try to build bowers.

Together we sent out kits to willing participants, containing materials, information on bower structures, and some bower bird themed snacks to keep everyone going. Following a briefing, participants had two weeks to build their bower, then sent in photos of their structures.

We used these experiments to inform our work recreating these bowers in VR. This meant we could shrink people down to experience what bowers look like from the birds' perspectives.

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This is made for cardboard VR sets which can be picked up for a few pounds and used with most smartphones, and the system will later be used for teaching and exhibitions.

Bower made by a bower bird, consisting of lots of twigs made into a tunnel-like structure. In front of the tunnel are various grey stones, a red plastic cup, some leaves, and what might be fruit.