Lyrebirds mimicking chainsaws: fact or lie?

To: Susanne Gardiner <>, CanberraBirds <>
Subject: Lyrebirds mimicking chainsaws: fact or lie?
From: John Harris <>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2014 03:09:20 +0000

Lyrebirds can and do imitate all manner of non-bird sounds and the only people who claim they don’t are theorists who have never had the joy hearing them for themselves. One of the wonderful memories of my happy childhood with my bird-loving grandfather in the 1940s was to walk and camp (very simply) in the Blue mountains, looking for birds and recording them in his old notebook. No camera of course but we did have an old pair of ex-army binoculars which I proudly carried. At dusk we would sit by a pool and he would light his pipe with his old tinder box which he preferred to matches. It always amused him to see if a lyrebird came to the sound of the striking of the flint. They mostly did, making striking flint noises, often  from several directions, scratching around in the leaves on the forest floor a few yards from us and sometimes even scuttling across the open ground beside us.   Ever since the timber-getters, lyrebirds had learned to imitate the sound of the flint striking but by the 1940s they were learning it from each other and no doubt it had acquired a meaning of some kind.  They just about always came. Now with the advantage of years I think it was most likely because they initially took grandfather’s flint to be the call of a strange lyrebird in their territory which they wanted to investigate…..Sorry, but I find it hard not to reminisce if someone gives me an excuse….

From: Susanne Gardiner <>
Reply-To: Susanne Gardiner <>
Date: Wednesday, 5 February 2014 11:27 am
To: CanberraBirds <>
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Lyrebirds mimicking chainsaws: fact or lie?

I've also observed them do motor and mechanical sounds in Kangaroo Valley years ago, when I lived there.

They are also the only bird I've successfully attracted with one of those little red Audubon Bird callers.

From: Chris Sanderson

Hmm, well I have personally observed a Superb Lyrebird mimicking a chainsaw in Tasmania - a feral population but still a bird in the wild.  It was right next to a cleared and burned area of forest that had probably been logged in the past few weeks.


On Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 5:10 PM, David McDonald (personal) <> wrote:

I found this article on that you might like: "Lyrebirds mimicking chainsaws: fact or lie?"


David McDonald

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