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Welcome to Birdata 25 January 2015

Albert's Lyrebird: Not just an imitation

P.R. Marsack

When it comes to lyrebirds, the Superb Lyrebird gets all the publicity. It's the one featured on the 10-cent piece; it's the one on the badge of the NSW NPWS; it's the one that is well studied and is always used to exemplify vocal mimicry. In fact, its image is seen everywhere. Few people other than birdwatchers, however, are even aware of Australia's other lyrebird: Albert's Lyrebird.

Albert's Lyrebird is far less widespread than its 'superb' cousin. It is found only in the rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests of south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales, where it scratches among the deep, moist leaf litter in search of invertebrates to eat.

Like the Superb Lyrebird, the song of the Albert's Lyrebird comprises a high proportion of mimicry of birds from the surrounding bush (though the variety is poorer than that of the Superb Lyrebird), as well as the occasional croaking frog. One was even heard to give a good imitation of people talking, but the only recognisable words were 'Hey Bill!'. Unlike the Superb Lyrebird, which is renowned for performing all sorts of mechanical sounds, Albert's Lyrebirds do not appear to incorporate imitations of other man-made sounds.

Albert's Lyrebirds are much shyer than the Superb Lyrebird, and their performances are given from rather inconspicuous and well-concealed display platforms made from thin vines or small branches, rather than mounds of soil and leaf litter in clearings.

The accompanying map shows where avid lyrebird-watchers can catch a glimpse of this shy forest dweller.

If you want to discover more information about this species or any other birds that occur in Australia, just take a little time to explore the Birdata website, or visit the BirdLife Australia website at www.birdlife.org.au . You never know what you might find.


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