The amazing and talented Lyrebird was discovered by John Wilson (one of Australia's first convicts) in 1788, ten years after the first fleet.
It became quite the fashion statement for ladies to wear the feathers of the superb lyrebird in their hats in the 1800's.
Many beautiful lyre birds were killed to satisfy this trend until new laws were passed to protect the species. The Lyrebird has been around for millions of years, fossils having been found dated to 15 million years ago.
This legendary Australian bird can be found in rain forest in Victoria and New South Wales. It was also introduced into Tasmania in the 19th century. There are two different species of Lyre birds
The Superb Lyrebird. The male is the third largest song bird with a length of 80 to 98 centimeters, (31.5 38.5 inches). The female is slightly smaller with a body measuring 74 to 84 centimeters, (29 to 33 inches).
The Albert's Lyrebird (named after Queen Victoria's Husband prince Albert) is a little bit smaller and can be found in Southern Queensland.
The Lyre Bird looks very similar to a large brown pheasant.
The male's tail is elaborate with beautiful curved feathers that when displayed during a courting ritual take on the look of a lyre, hence its name.
The female's and young male's tail does not have these ornate feathers.
The Lyre Bird lives on the moist forest floor during the day scrounging around for food such as small insects, spiders, worms,tiny grubs and some specialized seeds. At night it will roost in the protected tree tops.
The birds rarely move far and generally stay within in a home-radius of about 10 km.
The Superb Lyrebird song is legendary.
It is reported that 80% of the bird sounds are pure mimicry all combined to produce an amazing bird song. Each song individualistic to where the bird resides because of the unique sounds that it picks up.
The sounds can include chainsaws, car engines, cameras, other local birds from the area, dogs barking etc.
Play the video below and just see how amazing this legendary Australian lyrebird really is. This was captured wandering through the Healesville Sanctuary
The Australian Lyrebird breeds during the months between April and October.
The male lyre bird will build up to a dozen earth and leaf mounds in his territory and stands on each singing to attract potential mates. Spreading its beautiful tail feathers forward over its back it prances around displaying its plumage proudly.
The male will mate with several females during a season ensuring the propagation of his lineage.
During the male's mating dance the 'lyre' is formed from the ornate tail which is 75 cm long.
Two ribbon-shaped outer feathers form the frame of the lyre, with two black wire-like feathers and 12 silvery filamentary feathers between them.
The female lyrebird is the one that builds the nest, incubates the egg and cares for the young chick.
The nest is quite bulky with an entrance at the side.
Usually made up of sticks, twigs, dried fern-leaves and mosses on the outside and having an inner wall made up of wiry rootlets and bark-fibre. All this is lined with downy feathers from the legs of the bird.
The nest can be built on a rock ledge or at the base of a tree. Sometimes it may be located high in a large tree-fork.
The breeding season is from May to September. In most instances the egg is laid in June or July (mid-winter), hatching in about six weeks.
The young bird remains in the nest for a further six weeks.
The Lyrebird's beautiful tail is celebrated and can be found on the reverse of the 10 cent Australian coin.
The bird is quite shy and is therefore quite difficult to detect. However you will always be made aware of its presence as the sounds that it makes are very loud and raucous. Truly an amazing Australian legend.
If you enjoy the bird kingdom then may I suggest these truly wonderful books supplied by Fishpond
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