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Lyrebird ()

The Lyrebird

The Lyrebird

The Lyrebird has been around for millions of years,  fossils having been found dated to 15 million years ago.  This wonderful Australian bird can be found in rain forest habitats in Victoria and New South Wales.  It was also brought to Tasmania in the 19th century.  There are two different species of Lyrebirds: the Superb Lyrebird and Albert's Lyrebird.  The male Superb Lyrebird is the third largest songbird 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).  Albert's Lyrebird is a little bit smaller and can be found in Southern Queensland.  This bird was given it's name in honor of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert.




Both female and male birds look alike with their brown body, lighter underside and a  reddish neck.  The major difference between both is the two long feathers that the male Lyrebird has on his tail which he develops after he is two years old.  His tail consists of 16 feathers with two the two long outer feathers being broader to frame the tail.  The Lyrebird's mating ritual is actually very impressive.  The male bird starts by building a mound of dirt usually measuring about 90 centimeters, (35.5 inches), wide and 15 centimeters, (6 inches), high that he will use as his stage to show himself off to the females in the area.  In his territory he will normally have 10 to 15 mounds which he will visit in turn.  He will then fan his tail over his back and head.  It is  in this pose that his tail resembles  the musical instrument the lyre, which is how the Lyrebird got its name.

After mating, the female will build herself a nest low to the ground,(since Lyrebirds are very awkward flyers), and will lay one egg.  She will work alone to sit on it for 50 days before it hatches and then to take care of her baby until it leaves the nest after 6 to 10 weeks. 

The Lyrebird's diet consists of small insect, spiders, worms and will sometimes eat some seeds that will will find in the ground with the help of their strong claws.

The Lyrebird bird is the world's best impersonator.  It can mimic the sound and songs of other birds perfectly but its talent does not stop there.  It is also known to have imitated sounds of chainsaws, dogs barking, babies crying, musical instruments and explosions. 

Did you know: The Lyrebird's beautiful tail  can be found on the reverse of the 10 cent Australian coin.

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Grzimek, Bernhard. Four-Legged Australians. London: Collins, 1967. p.68-69
Unique Animals and Birds of Australia. Hong Kong: Rigby Limited, 1975. p.34-35
Poignant, Axel. The Improbable Kangaroo and Other Australian Animals. Sydney: Angus & Robertson Limited, 1965.

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