"Birds" - a note of caution

Subject: "Birds" - a note of caution
From: Chris Ross <>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 22:59:05 +1100

Hi everyone, just wondering about the lyrebird shown on the life of
birds with David Attenborough, which is shown mimicking a car alarm, a
camera and a car alarm.  Was that song outside the brreding season, or
not a wild bird?


Chris Ross

Syd Curtis wrote:

Hi all,

       "Birds - Their habits and skills", by Gisela Kaplan & Lesley J.
Rogers.  Allen and Unwin. 2001.

Contains an amazing amount of material, but some caution on the part of
reader is indicated, I suggest.  My thoughts became directed along that
when I read on page 50:

    "Lyrebirds are famous for their dancing displays as well as their
versatile vocal displays.  These vocalisations contain beautiful musical
sequences as well as exquisitely mimicked sequences of other bird sounds
even car horns, chainsaws, horses, dogs, and many other animate and
inanimate objects, all strung together to make a statement and attract a

There is a superscript "40" at the end of that, and I couldn't wait to
the reference to see who was responsible for that arrant nonsense about
horns, chainsaws, etc.

Imagine my amazement - and horror - when I found (p. 211) it to be a
reference to a paper that I co-authored:

"40   Robinson, F.N. and Curtis, H.S. (1996) The vocal displays of the
lyrebird (sic) (Menuridae).  Emu, 96, 258-275."

But what Norman and I had actually written is this:

    "In all the recordings made during the breeding season, only the
of birds and mammals were mimicked.  No sounds of human or mechanical
nor mimicry of corvids that are predators of Superb Lyrebird eggs were
heard."   (Pp. 261/2 of Emu.)

And that was based (with each of us) on 30 years of studying lyrebirds
hundreds of hours of tape recorded lyrebird display song.  (And before
anyone jumps on me, note that we were referring to lyrebirds in the wild
only to their breeding season song.)
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