Superb lyrebird

The amazing superb lyrebird is found in Australia and is considered one of the premier mimics of the avian world.
A non-recordist friend recently asked me in an e-mail whether birds ever imitated human music and whether composers ever copied bird-song. The latter I can answer at length, (having corresponded with Syd Curtis, Australia ), but not the first. There is a story of a lyrebird chick raised in captivity and learning to sing by copying flute music. He was later released and his “flute” songs were taken up by that lyrebird population. That’s the story. It’s been disputed. I think it probably did happen. Here is a recording I made in Victoria, Australia in 1996. Syd Curtis (Lyrebird expert) told me he could identify over 18 birds that this bird had imitated and even told me the location where I recorded the lyrebird because of the dialects!

Superb lyrebird

Superb lyrebird - From Wikipedia


The Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) is a pheasant-sized songbird, approximately 100cm long, with brown upper body plumage, grayish-brown below, rounded wings and strong legs. It is the longest and third heaviest of all songbirds.

make sure you click on the play button at the foot of the sonogram to hear this amazing bird.


Take a look at this video of a Lyrebird mimicking a construction site nearby

About Martyn Stewart

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