"Birds" - a note of caution

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: "Birds" - a note of caution
From: Vicki Powys <>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 10:38:14 +1100
The Superb Lyrebird on "Life of Birds" that mimicked the camera shutter was
a bird in captivity, at Healsville Sanctuary in Victoria, I believe.
Lyrebirds in the wild will mimic car alarms etc., but apparently not in the
breeding season as part of their display song.

Vicki Powys
Capertee Valley NSW

on 27/2/03 10:59 PM, Chris Ross at  wrote:

> 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?
> regards,
> 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
> the
> reader is indicated, I suggest.  My thoughts became directed along that
> path
> 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
> and
> even car horns, chainsaws, horses, dogs, and many other animate and
> inanimate objects, all strung together to make a statement and attract a
> female."
> There is a superscript "40" at the end of that, and I couldn't wait to
> check
> the reference to see who was responsible for that arrant nonsense about
> car
> 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
> sounds
> of birds and mammals were mimicked.  No sounds of human or mechanical
> origin
> 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
> and
> 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
> and
> only to their breeding season song.)
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