"Birds" - a note of caution

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: "Birds" - a note of caution
From: Paul Taylor <>
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 2003 20:47:07 +1100
Valerie Curtis wrote:
> Why should the bird imitate this one 'mechanical' sound?

Turning the argument around, how does a lyrebird distinguish a "natural"
sound from a "man-made" one?  The simple answer is - it doesn't.

A lyrebird's song has two main messages - "Here I am!" and "Aren't
I a wonderful singer?"  It doesn't matter what sounds it mimics, as
long as they help deliver those messages.  Many of the mimicked sounds
are loud birdcalls:  Crimson Rosellas, Laughing Kookaburras, Pilotbirds,
Pied Currawongs etc.  Quiet birdcalls are less useful; they still
demonstrate the bird's singing prowess, but are wasted if a female
(or rival male) can't hear them.  Car alarms, hammered tent pegs and
(sooner or later) mobile phones also fit the bill.  Camera shutters
aren't loud, but for a captive bird they are a common sound which is
probably also important - a female is less likely to be impressed by
a mimicked sound if she can't judge its quality.

   Paul Taylor                                  Veni, vidi, tici -
                           I came, I saw, I ticked.

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