Introduction to Lyrebird

The lyrebird (genus Menura) is one of two Australian bird species (family Menuridae, order Passeriformes) named for the appearance of their tail when extended in courtship display.

The name often conjures up images of a guitarist. Lyrebirds are land dwellers that live in the forests of southeastern Australia. Their brown bodies mimic those of chickens. The male of the so-called superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) has eight pairs of ornate feathers on his tail, which when erect mimic a lyre. Six pairs of filmy whitish feathers are present.

The breeding season is during the rainy winter months when insect food is abundant.

The nest is a large mound of sticks, usually on the ground, that houses the single egg called lyrebird eggs in a spacious chamber. The female, who is similar to the male except for tail growth, is in charge of nest building and incubation. 

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Lyrebird

The Menura and the family Menuridae include two species of ground-dwelling Australian birds known as lyrebirds.

They're known for their incredible ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their surroundings, as well as the beautiful beauty of the male bird's massive tail while fanned out in courtship display. Lyrebirds are one of Australia's most well-known native birds, with their distinctive plumes of neutral-coloured tail feathers. 


Classification of Lyrebird

The grouping of lyrebirds was the subject of much discussion after the first specimens reached European scientists after 1798.

Major-General Thomas Davies first illustrated and described the splendid lyrebird as Menura superb to the Linnean Society of London in 1800. He based his research on specimens sent to England from New South Wales. 

Lyrebirds were believed to be Galliformes, analogous to European ducks, junglefowl, and pheasants, as shown by the early names given to the superb lyrebird, such as native pheasant.

Peacock-wrens and Australian birds-of-paradise were other names for them. When the first altricial chicks were mentioned, the belief that they were similar to pheasants was discarded. They were not included with the passerines until 1840, twelve years after they were assigned to their tribe, Menuridae. They form a single genus, Menura, within that family.

The lyrebird family is considered to be most closely related to the scrub-birds (Atrichornithidae), and some authorities group them as a single family, but evidence that they are also related to bowerbirds is debated. Lyrebirds are ancient Australian animals, with fossils dating back some 15 million years in the Australian Museum.

Early Miocene fossils discovered at the famed Riversleigh site were used to characterise the extinct Menura Tyawanoides.


Species of Lyrebird

Two species of lyrebird are extant like as,

  1. Superb lyrebird

  2. Albert's lyrebird


Superb Lyrebird

The superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) is an Australian lyrebird that belongs to the Menuridae genus. It is one of two species.

It is one of the largest songbirds in the world, and it is known for its intricate tail and courtship displays, as well as its superb mimicry. The species is native to Australia and can be found in the country's southeast forest. According to David Attenborough, the magnificent lyrebird has "the most elaborate, the most complex, and the most exquisite voice skills in the animal kingdom."

Lyrebirds are a kind of ancient Australian lyrebird.

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Lyrebird fossils from about 15 million years ago can be found in the Australian Museum. [eight] Early Miocene fossils discovered at the famed Riversleigh site were used to characterise the extinct Menura tyawanoides. From southern Victoria to southeastern Queensland, the superb lyrebird can be found in the forests of southeastern Australia.


Albert's Lyrebird

Albert's lyrebird (Menura Alberti) is a shy, pheasant-sized songbird that is only found in Australia's subtropical rainforests, in a restricted region near the state boundary between New South Wales and Queensland.

Albert's songbird is the rarer of the two lyrebird types, named after Prince Albert, the prince consort of Queen Victoria, the Queen of the United Kingdom. It lacks the superb lyrebird's exquisite lyre-shaped tail feathers and lives in a much smaller range.

Albert's lyrebirds have been fired in the past for use in desserts, to provide tail feathers to "globe-trotting curio-hunters," or by vandals.

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When closed, the female's tail is shorter, simpler, slightly drooping, and more pointed; it is made up of a pair of long, slender, tapered median plumes and entirely webbed, broad, brown feathers with rounded tips, but no filamentary. The male wears his tail in an upward-curving train while walking.


Lyrebird Voice

A lyrebird voice is one of the more characteristic aspects of its behavioural biology. Lyrebirds sing every year, but the height of the breeding season, which runs from June to August, is when they sing loudest. During this time, they can sing for up to four hours a day, nearly half of the daytime hours. The excellent lyrebird's music combines parts of its song with a variety of other mimicked songs and noises. The lyrebird's syrinx is the most complexly muscled of all the passerines (songbirds), giving it unrivalled vocal range and mimicry ability.

Both this species and the excellent lyrebird have strong, versatile voices and sing in long, uninterrupted passages using a combination of their calls and mimicry of other species.

In contrast to the superb lyrebird, Albert's lyrebird mimics a smaller number of species, with the green catbird and satin bowerbird, as well as whip birds and rosellas, appearing prominently in its imitations.

The lyrebird voice will make rich, resonant sounds one second, then turn to high thin squeaks and trills, and back to loud noises the next. Some song passages begin with a gentle, mellow sound that becomes clearer and louder, similar to a dingo howl.

At the peak of the winter breeding season, the males call for several hours a day and are silent at all times. The birds make a shrill shriek when they are alarmed. Even when calling loudly, this timid and mysterious creature is difficult to see in its habitat's thick mixed foliage, which has dim light and birds that are notoriously wary.


Breeding System

Lyrebirds have a long mating period, and they are long-lived birds, capable of living up to thirty years.

They also have a later breeding season than most passerine species. Female superb lyrebirds begin breeding when they are five to six years old, while males begin breeding when they are six to eight years old. Males protect the territory from other males, and those territories can include up to eight female breeding territories. Males build or use display platforms within their territories; for the superb lyrebird, this is a mound of bare earth, while for Albert's lyrebird, it is a pile of twigs on the forest floor.

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Male lyrebirds sing and dance in courtship displays on an open arena-mound in thick brush throughout the winter, while they build and retain an open arena-mound to present to prospective partners, of which the male lyrebird has plenty.

Rainfall and predation during the nest-building period influence the weight, length, and location of the female lyrebird's nest. The nest must be water-resistant and concealed in secluded locations to prevent predators from attacking it. The female lyrebird lays a single egg (lyrebird eggs) once the nest is built in the desired position. The female is the sole incubator of the egg for 50 days, and she is also the sole caretaker of the chick.


Distribution and Habitat

In Victoria, New South Wales, and southeast Queensland, the superb lyrebird can be found in rainforest areas.

It's also present in Tasmania, where it was brought over from Europe in the nineteenth century. Many magnificent lyrebirds can be found in the Dandenong Ranges National Park and Kinglake National Park in Melbourne, the Royal National Park and the Illawarra area south of Sydney, as well as many other parks and non-protected bushland along Australia's east coast. Just a remote region of Southern Queensland rainforest is home to Albert's lyrebird.

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During the nineteenth century, most of the lyrebird's habitat was cleared. While the species was still common in lowland areas at the turn of the twentieth century, habitat clearance has pushed most populations to higher altitude forests, typically at least 300 metres above sea level. The bird's range has reduced to a few small mountain ranges in the region of far south-east Queensland and far north-east New South Wales, with most of the remaining habitat occurring in national parks.

From Tamborine Mountain and Springbrook National Park in the east to the McPherson Range in the west, Albert's lyrebird can be found in Queensland. Mount Barney National Park and the Main Range have isolated populations. The Lamington Plateau has the highest single city. Albert's lyrebirds were formerly reported in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and the D'Aguilar Ranges, but they have since vanished.


Diet and Feeding

Lyrebirds feed on the ground. Insects such as cockroaches, beetles (both adults and larvae), earwigs, fly larvae, and moth adults and larvae are among the invertebrate prey taken. Centipedes, spiders, and earthworms are among the other prey caught. Stick flies, spiders, amphipods, lizards, frogs, and seeds are among the less common prey items. They hunt for food by digging through the leaf litter with their claws. 

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Albert's lyrebird appears to feed mainly on insects and their larvae, and other soil-dwelling invertebrates. They forage on the ground much of the time, particularly in areas with deep moist leaf litter and fallen trees, but they also forage in epiphytic ferns on occasion.

The superb lyrebird's diet consists mainly of invertebrates living on the forest floor, such as earthworms and insects. The birds are also Mycophagists, which means they consume fungi, according to the facts.


Did you know

Lyrebird symbols and logos

The lyrebird has been used as a symbol and icon on numerous occasions, especially in New South Wales and Victoria (where the superb lyrebird lives) and Queensland (where Albert's lyrebird lives).

  • A superb lyrebird is featured on the reverse of the Australian 10-cent coin.

  • In the transparent window of the Australian $100 bill, a stylized superb lyrebird appears.

  • The Australian one-shilling postage stamp, first issued in 1932, depicted a beautiful lyrebird.

  • The Australian Film Commission's logo is a silhouette of a male superb lyrebird.

  • The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service's logo is an example of a male superb lyrebird in courtship display.

  • The Victorian State Theatre's curtains display a portrait of a male superb lyrebird in courtship display as seen from the front.

  • The lyrebird also appears on the crest of Panhellenic Sorority Alpha Chi Omega, which has the lyre as its symbol.

  • The masthead of The Betoota Advocate shows a silhouetted male superb lyrebird in courtship display.

  • Many other businesses go by the name Lyrebird, and they all have lyrebird logos.

Conclusion

The lyrebird (genus Menura) is one of two Australian bird species (family Menuridae, order Passeriformes) named for the appearance of their tail when extended in courtship display. Lyrebirds are land dwellers that live in the forests of southeastern Australia. They're known for their incredible ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their surroundings, as well as their beautiful beauty of the male bird's massive tail. The male has eight pairs of ornate feathers on his tail, which when erect mimic a lyre. The breeding season is during the rainy winter months when insect food is abundant. There are two species of lyrebirds in Australia. The superb lyrebird has the most elaborate, the most complex, and the most exquisite voice skills in the animal kingdom.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q.1) Is a Lyrebird a Peacock?

Answer: 

Mambo Lyrebird

They are Australia's peacocks. Males have lyre-shaped tails that they can arrange in a variety of poses. Males use their tails to attract females, as do other species with impressive body pieces. Each one builds a tiny mound on the forest floor and struts about when singing. He even flaunts his tail by draping it over his head in front of him.


Lyrebirds are gifted mimics, but their songs include their calls, other species' songs, and noises they've heard in the wild, such as camera shutters and chainsaws.

Q.2) What Birds Can Mimic Humans?

Answer: 

Birds that can imitate human speech are known as talking birds. The research world remains divided about whether or not any talking parrots have a cognitive comprehension of the language. Birds can speak in a variety of ways: others, such as corvids, can only imitate a few terms and phrases, while others, such as budgerigars, have been observed to have a vocabulary of nearly 2,000 words.


The two types of birds who can learn and imitate human speech are songbirds and parrots. The mynah bird, which is a member of the starling family, can, however, be trained to understand and produce a human voice.

Q.3) Why is it Called a Lyrebird?

Answer: 

The male lyrebird has a spectacular tail made up of 16 greatly adapted feathers (two long slender lyrates in the centre of the plume, two wider medians on the outer sides, and twelve filamentaries arrayed between them), which was thought to mimic a lyre at one time.

Q.4) Why Do Blackbirds Mimic?

Answer: 

'Blackbirds can mimic, but they don't use it very much.

This one is almost definitely doing it to lure a female partner while still putting off other males with strange sounds.' A blackbird's repertoire of songs grows as they get older, but if it's still making the emergency sound, it might be a young bird.