Superb Lyrebird Mimicry

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Superb Lyrebird Mimicry
From: Vicki Powys <>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 11:04:06 +1100
on 29/12/01 12:46 PM, Irene at  wrote:

> ....
> [with Superb Lyrebirds] It's interesting to see the similarities and
>  differences [in the mimicked species].
> .....
> I do hope all those birds are all right and will survive the
> bushfires.  I'm not sure how big the lyrebird
> territories are, but the Blue Mountains fires seem to have been concentrated
> on the lower mountains and hopefully the birds
> could move to other parts of the mountains.

Hi Irene and All,

I enjoyed your observations Irene, on Superb Lyrebird mimicry.  As you have
noted, lyrebirds in different geographic locations have different suites of
mimicked calls.  Also, their territorial song varies geographically, and
family groups of lyrebirds all share the same repertoire of both mimicked
calls and territorial song.   In geographically isolated populations, the
differences in calls can be quite pronounced.

The suite of mimicked species for any one group of lyrebirds is not random,
but is 'inherited' within family groups - sons sing the same mimicked calls
as their fathers and uncles, rather than learning the calls directly from
the bird that is mimicked.  This fact was dramatically demonstrated when a
small group of Superb Lyrebirds were introduced into Tasmania from
Sherbrooke Forest, Victoria in the 1930s.  (Superb Lyrebirds did not occur
in Tasmania before that time).  Those transported lyrebirds continued on
with their suite of mimicked Sherbrook Forest birds, even though some of
those species did not occur in Tasmania e.g. the Eastern Whipbird.  The
Tassie lyrebirds did eventually incorporate mimicry of some of the local
Tassie endemics, but it took many many years for them to do so, and after 30
years they were still mimicking Whipbirds.

Regarding Irene's comments on the bushfires, lyrebirds are weak fliers and I
fear many will not escape the current bushfires.  Lyrebird family ties will
be broken and songlines will be lost.  (Malicious lighting of bushfires
should be a treasonable offence.)  I do hope all you Blue Mountains folk are
safe, my thoughts are with you, and with all those others affected by fires.

Vicki Powys
in smoke-filled Capertee Valley NSW

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