Lyrebirds

Menuridae

There are 2 species in the lyrebird family  – the Superb lyrebird and the Albert’s lyrebird.

Lyrebirds are capable of imitating almost any sound. As well as their own calls, clicks and song, you will usually hear them mimicking loud clear sounds made by other birds and mammals – including humans.

They have been heard to mimic the sounds of chainsaws, horns, alarms and even trains.

They sing throughout the year, and scientists think that the mimicry helps them to vocally set out their territory and defend it from other lyrebirds.  

At a glance the Superb lyrebird it can easily be mistaken for a large brown pheasant unless you see the male with is his 55-centimetre-long tail.  Females are smaller than the males, with similar colouring but without the lyre-shaped tail.

 The Superb lyrebird gives the family its name with its tail of fanned feathers, when spread out in display it looks like the musical instrument of ancient Greece called a lyre.

Young male Superb lyrebirds do not grow their lyre tails until they are three or four years old. Until this time, they usually group together and are known as ‘plain-tails’.

They can be found in moist forests of the South-eastern Australian mainland and southern Tasmania.

The Superb lyrebird breed April to October, the female builds the nest alone, incubates the eggs and cares for the young.

The Albert’s lyrebird is similar in appearance to the Superb lyrebird, but is smaller and darker, with a rich chestnut colour. The male does not have the outer lyre-shaped tail feathers of the Superb lyrebird. The Albert’s lyrebird is listed as vulnerable in NSW.

Albert’s Lyrebird is restricted to a small area of far south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern NSW. In NSW, it is mainly found in the McPherson and Tweed Ranges, but occurs west to the Acacia Plateau in the Border Ranges and south to the Koonyum and Nightcap Ranges, and with an isolated population at the species’ eastern and southern limit in the Blackwall Range, between Alstonville and Bagotville. Preferred habitat is wet rainforest , wet sclerophyll forests with good leaf litter and understory.

They breed in the winter months and the female lay a single egg, the female builds the nest alone, incubates the eggs and cares for the young.