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Is That a Bird or a Chainsaw? Why the Australian Lyrebird Rocks

Move over cassowary; I’ve got a new favorite Australian bird these days (I know that sounds weird, but it’s true). While the cassowary definitely reminds me of a dinosaur, the lyrebird can remind me of just about anything: a kookaburra, a camera, a car alarm or even a chainsaw! To understand exactly what I’m talking about, I suggest you watch this video clip. I promise, you will not regret it.

As you can see in the video, the lyrebird is able to mimic sounds from the environment with unbelievable accuracy. The reason for this ability is because of setup of the muscles in the syrinx. The males of this species are generally more singsong-y as they like to use their songs to present to potential mates.

The lyrebird is able to fly, but often chooses not to and just stick to the ground, which is where they will prepare their nests. These birds are known for having extremely beautiful tail feathers, of which the males’ fan out into the shape of the ancient lyre instrument (hence the name). They are found in various parts of Australia typically to the east of the Great Dividing Range.

Two types of lyrebirds are present in Australia: the superb lyrebird and the Albert’s lyrebird. The Albert’s lyrebird is a rarer species and is differentiated by being smaller and darker in color.

Because of their ability to impersonate other animals, things and people, you never really know if a lyrebird is around unless you see it. That makes me wonder if those crazy kookaburras that wake me up in the morning are even kookaburras at all.

Do you like birds? Check out my post on the birds of New South Wales.