Tuesday, June 18, 2013

L is for LYREBIRD

The Lyrebird has been around for millions of years, fossile having been found dated to 15 million years ago.  This wonderful Australian bird can be found in forest habitats in Victoria and New South Wales.  It was also brought to Tasmania in the 19th century.  There are two different species of lyrebirds: the Superb Lyrebird and Albert's Lyrebird.  The male Superb Lyrebird is the third largest songbird with a length of 80-95 centimetres (31.5-38.5 inches),  The female is slightly smaller with a body measuring 74-84 cm (29-33 in).  Albert's Lyrebird is a little smaller and can be found in Southern Queenslands.  This bird was given it's name in honour of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert.


Both the female and male birds look alike with their brown body, lighter underside and a reddish neck. The major difference between them is the two long feathers that the male lyrebird has on his tail which he develops after he is two years old.  His tail consists of 16 feathers with two the two long outer feathers being broader to frame the tail.  The lyrebird's mating ritual is actually very impressive.  The male bird starts by building a mound of dirt usually measuring about 90 cm (35.5 in) wide and 15 cm (6 in) high that he will use as his stage to show himself off to the females of the area.  In his territory he will normally have 10 to 15 mounds which he will visit in turn.


He will then fan his tail over his back and head.  It is in this pose that his tail resembles the musical instrument the lyre, which is how the lyrebird got its name.  This is depicted very well on this old one shilling stamp:
After mating, the female will build herself a nest low to the ground (since lyrebirds are very awkward flyers) and will lay one egg.  She will work alone to sit on it for 50 days before it hatches and then to take care of her baby until it leaves the nest after 6 to 10 weeks.




The lyrebird's diet consists of small insects, spiders, worms and will sometimes eat some seeds found in the ground with the help of their strong claws.

The lyrebird is the world's best impersonator.  It can mimic the sound and song of other birds perfectly but its talent doesn't stop there.  It is also known to have imitated sounds of chainsaws, dogs barking, babies crying, musical instruments and explosions.  If you really want to hear something extraordinary do please take time to log on to www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjEOKdfos4Y  You will be amazed.  I hope I've given you the right website but "song of the lyrebird" will get you there.

The lyrebird's beautiful tail can be found on the reverse side of the Australian 10 cent piece.


8 comments:

  1. I have to give a listen....truly spectacular birds.

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    1. I am so pleased you were able to hear what this amazing bird can do with its vocal chords. I have actually heard the 'explosion' sound either on TV or video as well. We of course don't have lyrebirds in Western Australia, more's the pity.

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  2. Oh the video did not work for me I will try again later. What a beautiful bird. B

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    1. Buttons that is a pity but don't give up. Just put "lyrebird sounds" or "lyrebird song" into Google and I am sure at least one of the resulting vidoes will work for you. As Delores said (above) it is truly amazing the sounds the lyrebird can make.

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  3. I will never look at a 10c piece the same way again, many thanks I loved your post. xxx

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  4. Thanks Rae....yes we take these things for granted and suddenly they have more meaning. Glad you liked the post. xxx

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  5. Only one egg at a time! Is the Lyrebird the only bird that lays a single egg?
    I never think of the reverse of a coin as being the reverse. For me it's the front and the queen's head is the back.

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