Mimicry by Magpie/Lyrebirds
Carl Clifford <>
Mimicry by Magpie/Lyrebirds
Chris Charles <>
Mon, 9 Apr 2007 21:53:37 +1000
The thread regarding Richard Attenborough's footage of the Lyrebird
reminds me of the period I lived in Brunei, Borneo during the late
70's & early 80's.
Sir RA based several of his episodes of his then current wildlife
programme on the tropical rainforest. The flying snake & the weaver
ant were two species found in Brunei that were to feature. The final
footage of the weaver ant episode showed RA soaked in with sweat
crawling through the mangrove swamp mud at night & breathlessly
whispering to the camera that at last the long ordeal was finally
rewarded as just ahead was the fabled weaver ant nest. The reality
was that the production team had put a lead light over the back fence
of my colleagues house & the action happened within 10 metres of all
the airconditioned comforts of home.
The flying snake was captured by an Iban hunter in the hinterland
forest & was brought to town for the film sequence. It was taken out
to the airfield (where else) where there was a water tower & the
cameras were set up. The foreshortening effect of the telephotos
brought the distant background of trees close to the action & when
all set the flying snake was thrown off the water tower & its
'flight' followed by the cameras. However it did not do its body
flattening aerofoil gliding thing but fell to the grass heavily where
it was recaptured. Several attempts were made without any improvement
& the snake was looking a bit stunned. Finally someone conned a
weather balloon from the met man & a radio controlled release was
organised for the attached snake. The balloon reached about 250m
before the snake was released in a do-or-die effort. The snake
dropped like a stone until perhaps it realised that it was it that
had to do-or-die & finally assumed the gliding position. The final
footage showed the snake gliding within a rainforest setting.
However these are the production shortcuts that a generation of
conservation consciousness is foundered on.
What was the truth of the chainsaw Superberb Lyrebird call? Hard to
know from the you-tube clip but recently at Patonga on NSW Central
Coast I was watching an LB in a gully above a car park. The LB went
through his repertoire of Kookaburra, Glossy Black Cockatoo,
Currarong & Whipbird calls filling the gully with his vibrant voice.
He stopped & raked through the leaf mulch & shortly after a large dog
started barking in the carpark. The LB stopped & listened & when the
dog had finished the LB commenced rehearsing "Woof Woof, Woof Woof"
quietly under his breath. So not sure I see a distinction between
mechanical & other sounds not normally part of the traditional
On 09/04/2007, at 10:36 AM, Carl Clifford wrote:
So, does that mean that the David Attenbourough footage of a
Lyrebird imitating a camera shutter release. motor drive and a
chain-saw was a fake ?
On 09/04/2007, at 12:24 AM, Syd Curtis wrote:
"May I repeat Norman's plea: If anyone has a recording of a
lyrebird in the
wild, imitating mechanical sounds, I would be grateful to hear from
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