Mimicry by Superb Lyrebirds

Subject: Mimicry by Superb Lyrebirds
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2003 13:06:45 +1000
Colin Scouler asked:
>My question is this:  when mimicking, do Superb Lyrebirds only give the
>calls of other species in the form of the "medley", or do they sometimes
>imitate the call of a single species in isolation?

Superb Lyrebirds do at times mimic a single species in isolation - I've
seen them doing this in a range of situations although never as part of the
full song/display (when they perform mimicry as a stream or "medley" of
sounds, as Colin described, interspersed with their own calls).

Most of the examples I can think of from personal experience involve
mimicry of Kookaburra calls. On one occasion that springs to mind a female
lyrebird let out a burst of Kookaburra laughter when she became aware of me
being near her nest. Another time I was watching two male lyrebirds feeding
together, and one of them was singing sporadically as he foraged,
concentrating mainly on the first few notes, the "revving up", of the
kookaburra call over and over and over..... He never progressed into the
full laughter, but occasionally launched into a Crimson Rosella or his own
rhythmical song, with variations.

On the topic of lyrebird mimicry, I listened to a wonderful performance a
couple of weeks ago at Pierces Pass in the NSW Blue Mountains. This bird
mimicked at least 17 different bird sounds in a continuous stream,
including (in no particular order):
Eastern Whipbird (various calls)
Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo
Satin Bowerbird
Grey Currawong
Gang-gang Cockatoo
Eastern Spinebill
Laughing Kookaburra
Crimson Rosella
Pied Currawong
Red Wattlebird
White-eared Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater
Golden Whistler
Brown Thornbill

The best singers I have heard mimicked about 20 different bird calls. But
I'm getting away from the original question. Perhaps others can add further



Carol Probets
Blue Mountains NSW

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