Early evening in Ku-Ring-Gai NP

To: "Tom Wilson" <>, <>
Subject: Early evening in Ku-Ring-Gai NP
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2004 13:18:39 +1000
Tom Wilson wrote:
Just as we were packing up, and it was getting dark, I heard what I think is an owlet-nightjar call - a series of about 7 or 8 rising, trilling calls, a bit like a (traditional) mobile phone ring tone.  However, from the same spot, we then got a currawong, kookaburra and sulphur crested cockatoo, so I think the singer was a Superb Lyrebird - it made me wonder though - do Lyrebirds mimic specific species based on the time of day, or do they just do their thing whenever they feel like it?


I've never heard Owlet-nightjars making a rising trill (it's generally descending notes) but I have on occasion heard lyrebirds do something like you described so I suspect that what you heard might have been one of the lyrebird's own calls (of which it has a variety), or perhaps mimicry of something else.

But to answer your question about time of day - I'm not aware of any evidence that lyrebirds mimic different species at different times of day. A male Superb Lyrebird in full song appears to run through its repertoire of mimicry in a random order; it has learnt most of this mimicry from other lyrebirds rather then the models themselves. Note that at this time of year they are past the peak singing/displaying season (which is early winter) and singing has become much less frequent. However lyrebirds also use mimicry in other circumstances. For example, when under stress or threat they will sometimes mimic a Kookaburra or other large or aggressive species. I have also noticed that females, and males in subsong, will be more adventurous in their mimicry and include sounds which are not normally heard during the full song. So, they might mimic different sounds in different situations, but I'm not aware of the mimicry being related to the time of day that the model is heard.



Carol Probets
Blue Mountains NSW

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