Mimicry by Magpie

To: "Syd Curtis" <>,
Subject: Mimicry by Magpie
From: "Chris Sanderson" <>
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2007 14:17:17 +1000
Hi Syd,

I'm not sure if you'd count this as in the wild, but I was cycling to
Hastings Cave in Tasmania a couple of years ago and as I was passing through
a patch of clearfelled and burned forest (the forestry industry in Tassie's
standard practice for old-growth I believe) I heard a chainsaw at the edge
of it.  And then a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, then other birds, then more
chainsaw, and so on.  It was a Superb Lyrebird, feral but wild.  I'll have
to go through my grandmother's lyrebird recordings to see if hers did any
mechanical noises, but the Tassie one is the only time I've heard a noise
clearly of human origin from a lyrebird.  Great Bowerbirds on the other hand
do a fantastic imitation of human speech at the Broome Bird Observatory.

Carl, I believe the Lyrebirds that imitate the shutter release and motor
drive of a camera are in captivity at Healesville Sanctuary in Melbourne's
north-west outskirts.  So no, the Attenborough footage isn't faked, but the
birds aren't wild either.  It doesn't take away from how fantastic they are
as mimics though.


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