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Lyrebirds are a remarkable and ancient species of bird which are unique to Australia and have become one of the nation’s iconic species with its image appearing in our currency (ten cent coin, one hundred dollar note) and numerous other applications.

There are two species of Lyrebird, named for the resemblance of their tail to an ancient musical instrument.  Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) which is found in southern Qld, Victoria, NSW and was introduced into Tasmania and the Albert’s Lyrebird (Menura alberti) , this species was named in honour of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. It is smaller and more reddish than the Superb and is only found very small isolated pockets of upland rainforest in North east NSW and South East Qld, including Tamborine Mt.

Alberts lyrebird are relatively large birds males are 80 – 90 cms, females 74-84 cms, they are reddish brown, the male has a long filamentary tail of brown and silver feathers, the female has a plain reddish brown tail. They are shy, elusive, ground foragers and use their powerful feet to rake the forest floor for insects, invertebrates and plant material. Although they are poor flyers they tend to roost in trees overnight then volplane down to the ground in the morning.  

The breeding season is May to August. The male builds vine platforms and calls to advertise his presence to females, when a female appears he dances with his silver tail shimmering over his back and head. After mating the female takes on the role of sole parent – she builds a domed nest usually on the ground, lays a single egg, incubates it for about 50 days, feeds the nestling for 6 to 10 weeks then looks after the juvenile for up to 8 months.

The call of the Lyrebird could be described as three parts - the territorial call, which is a beautiful pure call: mimicry mainly other bird species: and a harsher bark like call known as gronking.

Each population of Lyrebirds has a slightly different sequencing of calls and mimicry, like humpback whales they seem to learn their calls through cultural transmission. Victorian Lyrebirds were relocated to Tasmania, their descendents still mimic the calls of Victorian birds. A population of Lyrebirds mimiced the sound of a flute playing because fifty years previously a pet lyrebird who could copy the flute playing of his captors was released. The flute calls were analysed and identified as versions of two popular tunes of the thirties.

Alberts Lyrebird are very vulnerable and there are relatively small populations in very restricted areas, so our local population is globally significant. It is important to monitor their numbers and TMNHA does this every year by conducting a lyrebird survey. People can assist in the field survey on 6 June or they can participate in the survey by completing observation forms which are available from the library, Visitors Information Centre or emailed on request. If interested please contact Jeff Eller, 55450995 email margjeffeller [AT] yahoo [DOT] com [DOT] au or Nadia 5545 3551 email

For the territorial call ID go to http://naturalhistory.org.au/component/option,com_docman/task,cat_view/gid,38/Itemid,31/

For intersting footage of Lyrebird mimicry go to

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Why does attentiveness to nature matter? In a very fundamental sense, we are what we pay attention to. Paying heed to beauty, grace, and everyday miracles promotes a sense of possibility and coherence that runs deeper and truer than the often illusory commercial, social "realities" advanced by mainstream contemporary culture. ... Our attention is precious, and what we choose to focus it on has enormous consequences. What we choose to look at, and to listen to--these choices change the world. As Thich Nhat Hanh has pointed out, we become the bad television programs that we watch. A society that expends its energies tracking the latest doings of the celebrity couple is fundamentally distinct from one that watches for the first arriving spring migrant birds, or takes a weekend to check out insects in a mountain stream, or looks inside flowers to admire the marvelous ingenuities involved in pollination. The former tends to drag culture down to its lowest commonalities; the latter can lift us up in a sense of unity with all life. The Way of Natural History, edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner and published by Trinity University Press (Texas)