Lyrebirds learning artificial sounds

To: "'Philip Veerman'" <>, "'Jon Irvine'" <>
Subject: Lyrebirds learning artificial sounds
From: "Steve" <>
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2010 11:10:50 +1000
Of course the machine that lyrebirds would most commonly hear is the motor
car. The very first time I managed to sneak up on a displaying lyrebird was
over 35 years ago near the top of Lady Carrington Drive (close to the main
road) in the Royal National Park. Although it was a long time ago I have a
clear recollection of hearing car sounds from the bird. What struck me most
was the incorporation of the Doppler effect (High pitched then low) just
like Jon Irvine's helicopter bird! 
Steve Murray

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Philip Veerman
Sent: Friday, 12 February 2010 9:54 AM
To: 'Jon Irvine'
Cc: 'Birding Aus'
Subject: Lyrebirds learning artificial sounds

That certainly sounds convincing. I suspect the problem of the issue is
that many stories of them imitating mechanical sounds are a miss-hearing
of some of their natural repertoire that does sound sort of like some
machinery. Because of that and that these calls are clearly not mimicry
of another bird, people have assumed it to be mimicry of machines
(rather than non mimicry calls).


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Jon Irvine
Sent: Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:32 PM
To: 'Richard & Roz'; 
Subject: Lyrebirds learning artificial sounds

Hi Richard,

Unfortunately I do not have a recording but one of my first
acquaintances with a Superb Lyrebird in the Blue Mountains (I think it
was 1995) turned out to be quite an extraordinary one. I was walking
with my work colleague on the Ruined Castle Track out of Katoomba and we
heard the sound of a helicopter further along the track. The noise was
not coming from the sky but a specific spot on the forest floor. On our
approach the noise stopped but I could hear the scraping of leaves
followed by the typical mix of lyrebird sounds. The bird did not make
the helicopter noise again but I am convinced that it was the bird that
made it. What was extraordinary was that both my colleague and I were
first absolutely convinced that it was a helicopter; the sound was so
convincing that it even had a Doppler effect as if the helicopter was
flying overhead. We both perceived it coming from the ground about 30
metres distant, at the exact spot that we later saw the lyrebird.

This will surely put me in the same league as UFO chasers and alien
abductionists. But what are the other plausible explanations? It was
definitely not an actual helicopter with perhaps the geometry of the
landscape producing strange audio effects because the noise stopped
dead, as if a recording had suddenly been turned off. This leads me to
the only other plausible explanation I can think: that someone was in
there with a recording of a helicopter maybe actually trying to get the
lyrebird to mimic it!!!


Jon Irvine


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