Mimicry by Lyrebird

To: Terry Bishop <>, Birding-aus <>
Subject: Mimicry by Lyrebird
From: Syd Curtis <>
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 09:25:08 +1000

> From: "Terry Bishop" <>
> Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2007 12:42:21 +1000
> To: "Birding-aus" <>
> Subject: RE: [Birding-Aus] Mimicry by Lyrebird
> Page on the NSW NPW site re Lyrebirds.

Hello Terry,

    I note the NP&W Service says of lyrebirds, "They have been heard to
mimic the sounds of chainsaws, horns, alarms and even trains."  I reckon the
Service is simply repeating general lyrebird "lore" and that they don't
actually have any evidence of this.

    Also:  "The male superb lyrebird is 80-100 cm long, including his
55-cm-long tail."

Len Smith (Dr L.H. Smith, N P Director in Victoria for many years) in his
book "The Life of the Lyrebird" (Heinemann, Australia, 1988), gives
measurements for the tails of mature Superbs (pp 82/83):

    Lyrates (the outer rectrices)   638-740 mm
    Filamentaries                   605-719 mm
    Medians (the "wire" feathers)   682-792 mm

Take your pick: 55 cm tail according to the Park Service or 60-70 cm
according to Dr Smith.

And further:

    "The Albert's lyrebird is similar in appearance to the superb ..."

Not very similar.  There is a marked difference in the tail of the males
which greatly affects the appearance of the two species in display - as I
pointed out 30+ years ago - in a paper in Emu 72, 81-84.

And still more:

    "Due to its specialised habitat, the Albert's lyrebird is an endangered
species and the clearing of rainforest would probably lead to the bird's

But almost all remaining Albert's Lyrebird habitat is now in conservation
reserves, so the rainforest is not likely to be cleared.




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