The Australian Lyrebird

I remember seeing this clip when it was first on TV.

Its an amazing piece of mimicry. :cool:

Where’s the :gobsmacked: smiley when you need it? :eek: just doesn’t cut it for that clip…


One problem with the Lyrebird, unless you’re David-fucken-Attenborough, you’ll prolly never see or hear one in real life. He signed a deal with the LyreUnion that forbade public displays unless there was a delegate there. :smiley:

Quite. There are plenty of them up in the hills near Melbourne. You can see their mounds and the occasional feather, but they’re pretty shy. And when you hear birdsong in the Dandenongs, you never know whether it’s a lyrebird or whatever it might be imitating.

Gloat Big Time coming - I see them often. And hear them often. Kambuckta - there are places in Kinglake National Park - about an hour away from you - where they are pretty reliably found wandering around the picnic ground. And not many people go there. I have heard them do ten different bird calls in a single lyrebird song. Stunning.

I grew up in the Danadenongs (forested area outside Melbourne) and they used to hop on the window boxes and tap on the windows waking me in the morning. How lucky is that??!! We couldn’t rely on sound to know if our pump was working - the lyrebirds mimiced it so well. Did a really good dog bark as well.

They are incredible.


Wow, that was really astonishing. Just perhaps a bit sad that it knew the sound of sawing down trees so well.

Incredible. And all this time I thought they were just a second-rate peacock.

Very cool. I remember seeing that clip ages ago as well. “Gobsmacked” always describes the effect of Attenborough’s documentaries, IMO.

I also saw it on TV some time ago, now I get to show my friends and family how cool the Lyrebird is.

I love the way David Attenborough’s understated commentary allows the bird time to show what it can do. It’s a bit like a 20 minute Pink Floyd song, allow the music to build and don’t rush in to the finale.

My parents were thrilled to see seven of them on a recent day trip. Although they are shy, it’s not uncommon to see one or two if you’re in the right areas but seven was (for us) unheard of. They are incredible birds - I sent the clip to my dad and he’s sharing it with friends across the world as we speak.

What I would like to know is, how does the female know that this is a male lyrebird doing his thang, and not an actual kookaburra/camera shutter/car alarm/chainsaw?

Process of painful elimination I guess. :smiley:

Because kookaburras, and all the rest, only do their own song, not a whole lot of other birds and sounds as well. As shown in the clip, it fooled a kookaburra. When I’ve heard them they don’t just do a single call, but often a lyrebirdy bit first and then other calls and then maybe a lyrebirdy bit at the end.

Decades of birdwatching in lyrebird territory, and I’ve never gone close to seeing seven in a day, cazzle, that’s incredible.


I’ve heard them do ‘dirt-bike engine’. It’s not that different to ‘chainsaw’ I suppose. But no, they aren’t the shy, fleeting and graceful images that come across sometimes. Raucous and forward for a ground-foraging birds, there are lots in the Blue Mountains and Steep escarpments in the Northern regions of Sydney.

I suppose you people have seen a platypus in the wild too? (Pout).

Thanks to matt_mcl, I’ve now got the lyrics to “Crosscut saw” in my head:

“I’m a crosscut saw, babe,
Gonna drag you across my blade”

Yes. Only a few kilometres from home. And on our own place we have kangaroos, possums, wombats, echidna and wallabies breeding. We own a small part of the wildlife corridor leading to Kinglake National Park. Then I can start on the bird species … colourful parrots like you wouldn’t believe. And do I appreciate how incredibly lucky I am? Yes!


Thanks for the link, Vagus. That was amazing.

I grew up at the foot of the Blue Mountains, in western Sydney, and we used to hear lyrebirds all the time, and see them very occasionally. I also used to spot one now and then when my parents lived in the Hunter Valley.

Same around here, there’s a nature reserve about 5 min walk from my house & a river corridor about 20min away.

The kangaroos are really bad here at the moment due to the drought. Quite a traffic hazard at times.

This has been an interesting thread… does Australia also have mockingbirds? They’re quite common in the U.S., and they also are great mimics, though probably not as polymorphously accomplished as the lyrebird – although mockingbirds have been known to imitate the sounds of those cycling, polyphase car alarms. (They’re also famously territorial, dive-bombing people, dogs, and cats who stray too close to their nests, which for some perverse reason are often located close to people’s parking spaces, mailboxes, garden hoses, etc… :slight_smile: )
And if this thread had a theme song, it’d have to be “I Bought Myself a Liarbird” by XTC. :smiley:

We don’t have mockingbirds, but we do have magpies, which are also incredibly territorial, especially around nesting season, and like to dive-bomb people and imitate things (the ones in my backyard have learned to imitate my guinea pigs). They don’t seem to do it much, though.