Lyrebirds learning artificial sounds

To: "Richard & Roz" <>, <>
Subject: Lyrebirds learning artificial sounds
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2010 15:11:09 +1100
Richard and All,

A lyrebird song mapping project is already underway in the New England region. Last year over 40 sites were sampled and this year further extensive sampling will take place. This study is being carried out by Vicki Powys, Hollis Taylor, Syd Curtis and Carol Probets, and follows on from earlier research done by Ed Slater, Norman Robinson and Neville Fenton.

So Richard, and any others out there who are interested, this is just to let you know of the existing research situation.

Vicki Powys
Sound Editor
Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group

(and Carol Probets)

At 10:12 AM +1100 11/2/10, Richard & Roz wrote:

The story of the 'flute-playing' lyrebird of Dorrigo is a different kettle of bananas. I have heard all the relevant recordings, and the bird in question is very convincing - especially when played alongside the popular tune that it was supposedly mimicing. It is possible that some of the lyrebirds in the immediate vicinity picked up elements of this mimicry for a while. There is a flute-like call in the birds' own repertoire which can be heard in wild birds from Dorrigo to Werrikimbe, and it would not take much modification of this to be quite close to the tune in question. However, my work on the mimicry of Tasmanian lyrebirds, which were taken to the forests of southern Tassie from Victoria a bit over 60 years ago, has shown that mimiced calls fade quickly from the repertoire of lyrebirds in the absence of reinforcement from the original model (although there was evidence, however, of some residual 'whipbird' in the birds I listened to recently in Tasmania).

The 'flute-like' call is, however, quite an extraordinary one, and I have set aside all of June this year to follow it through it's entire range - which is fortunately not far from where I live - and to make a collection of sound recordings. Maybe I will be convinced that the Superb Lyrebird so loves the sound of the flute that it has incorporated it into its own 'permanent' repertoire. We shall see.

Richard (the skeptic)

Richard Jordan
PO Box 449
NSW 2454

tel (02) 6655 9456
mob 042 838 5677


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