A lyrebird is either of two species of ground-dwelling Australian birds that compose the genus Menura, and the family Menuridae. They are most notable for their superb ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their environment, and the striking beauty of the male bird's huge tail when it is fanned out in courtship display. Lyrebirds have unique plumes of neutral-coloured tailfeathers and are among Australia's best-known native birds.
Temporal range: Early Miocene to present
The classification of lyrebirds was the subject of much debate after the first specimens reached European scientists after 1798. The superb lyrebird was first illustrated and described scientifically as Menura superba by Major-General Thomas Davies in 1800 to the Linnean Society of London. He based his work on specimens sent from New South Wales to England.
Lyrebirds were thought to be Galliformes like the broadly similar looking partridge, junglefowl, and pheasants familiar to Europeans, reflected in the early names given to the superb lyrebird, including native pheasant. They were also called peacock-wrens and Australian birds-of-paradise. The idea that they were related to the pheasants was abandoned when the first chicks, which are altricial, were described. They were not classed with the passerines until a paper was published in 1840, 12 years after they were assigned a discrete family, Menuridae. Within that family they compose a single genus, Menura.
It is generally accepted that the lyrebird family is most closely related to the scrub-birds (Atrichornithidae) and some authorities combine both in a single family, but evidence that they are also related to the bowerbirds remains controversial.
Lyrebirds are ancient Australian animals: the Australian Museum has fossils of lyrebirds dating back to about 15 million years ago. The prehistoric Menura tyawanoides has been described from Early Miocene fossils found at the famous Riversleigh site.
Two species of lyrebird are extant:
|Image||Scientific name||Common Name||Description||Distribution|
|Menura novaehollandiae||Superb lyrebird called weringerong, woorail, and bulln-bulln in Aboriginal languages.||one of the world's largest songbirds, and is noted for its elaborate tail and excellent mimicry||south-eastern Australia, from southern Victoria to south-eastern Queensland|
|Menura alberti||Albert's lyrebird||Named in honour of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria||between New South Wales and Queensland, Australia,|
The lyrebirds are large passerine birds, amongst the largest in the order. They are ground living birds with strong legs and feet and short rounded wings. They are generally poor fliers and rarely take to the air except for periods of downhill gliding. The superb lyrebird is the larger of the two species. Females are 74–84 cm long, and the males are a larger 80–98 cm long—making them the third-largest passerine bird after the thick-billed raven and the common raven. Albert's lyrebird is slightly smaller at a maximum of 90 cm (male) and 84 cm (female) (around 30–35 inches) They have smaller, less spectacular lyrate feathers than the superb lyrebird, but are otherwise similar.
The superb lyrebird is found in areas of rainforest in Victoria, New South Wales, and south-east Queensland. It is also found in Tasmania where it was introduced in the 19th century. Many superb lyrebirds live in the Dandenong Ranges National Park and Kinglake National Park around Melbourne, the Royal National Park and Illawarra region south of Sydney, in many other parks along the east coast of Australia, and non protected bushland. Albert's lyrebird is found only in a small area of Southern Queensland rainforest.
Lyrebirds are shy and difficult to approach, particularly the Albert's lyrebird, with the result that little information about its behaviour has been documented. When lyrebirds detect potential danger, they pause and scan the surroundings, sound an alarm, and either flee the area on foot, or seek cover and freeze. Firefighters sheltering in mine shafts during bushfires have been joined by lyrebirds.
Lyrebirds feed on the ground and as individuals. A range of invertebrate prey is taken, including insects such as cockroaches, beetles (both adults and larvae), earwigs, fly larvae, and the adults and larvae of moths. Other prey taken includes centipedes, spiders, earthworms. Less commonly taken prey includes stick insects, bugs, amphipods, lizards, frogs and occasionally, seeds. They find food by scratching with their feet through the leaf-litter.
The breeding cycle of the lyrebirds is long, and lyrebirds are long-lived birds, capable of living as long as thirty years. They also start breeding later in life than other passerine birds. Female superb lyrebirds start breeding at the age of five or six, and males at the age of six to eight. Males defend territories from other males, and those territories may contain the breeding territories of up to eight females. Within the male territories, the males create or use display platforms; for the superb lyrebird, this is a mound of bare soil; for the Albert's lyrebird, it is a pile of twigs on the forest floor.
Male lyrebirds call mostly during winter, when they construct and maintain an open arena-mound in dense bush, on which they sing and dance in courtship display, to display to potential mates, of which the male lyrebird has several. The female builds an untidy nest, usually low to the ground in a moist gully, where she lays a single egg. The egg is incubated over 50 days solely by the female, and the female also fosters the chick alone.
A lyrebird's song is one of the more distinctive aspects of its behavioural biology. Lyrebirds sing throughout the year, but the peak of the breeding season, from June to August, is when they sing with the most intensity. During this peak they may sing for four hours of the day, almost half the hours of daylight. The song of the superb lyrebird is a mixture of elements of its own song and any number of other mimicked songs and noises. The lyrebird's syrinx is the most complexly-muscled of the passerines (songbirds), giving the lyrebird extraordinary ability, unmatched in vocal repertoire and mimicry. Lyrebirds render with great fidelity the individual songs of other birds and the chatter of flocks of birds, and also mimic other animals such as koalas and dingoes. The lyrebird is capable of imitating almost any sound and they have been recorded mimicking human sounds such as a mill whistle, a cross-cut saw, chainsaws, car engines and car alarms, fire alarms, rifle-shots, camera shutters, dogs barking, crying babies, music, mobile phone ring tones, and even the human voice. However, while the mimicry of human noises is widely reported, the extent to which it happens is exaggerated and the phenomenon is unusual.
The superb lyrebird's mimicked calls are learned from the local environment, including from other superb lyrebirds. An instructive example is the population of superb lyrebirds in Tasmania, which have retained the calls of species not native to Tasmania in their repertoire, with some local Tasmanian endemic bird songs added. Young birds take about a year to perfect their mimicked repertoire. The female lyrebirds of both species are also mimics capable of complex vocalisations. Superb lyrebird females are often silent during courtship; however, they regularly produce sophisticated vocal displays during foraging and nest defense. A recording of a superb lyrebird mimicking sounds of an electronic shooting game, workmen and chainsaws was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry in 2013.
One researcher, Sydney Curtis, has recorded flute-like lyrebird calls in the vicinity of the New England National Park. Similarly, in 1969, a park ranger, Neville Fenton, recorded a lyrebird song which resembled flute sounds in the New England National Park, near Dorrigo in northern coastal New South Wales. After much detective work by Fenton, it was discovered that in the 1930s, a flute player living on a farm adjoining the park used to play tunes near his pet lyrebird. The lyrebird adopted the tunes into his repertoire, and retained them after release into the park. Neville Fenton forwarded a tape of his recording to Norman Robinson. Because a lyrebird is able to carry two tunes at the same time, Robinson filtered out one of the tunes and put it on the phonograph for the purposes of analysis. One witness suggested that the song represents a modified version of two popular tunes in the 1930s: "The Keel Row" and "Mosquito's Dance". Musicologist David Rothenberg has endorsed this information. However, a “flute lyrebird” research group (including Curtis and Fenton) formed to investigate the veracity of this story found no evidence of “Mosquito Dance” and only remnants of “Keel Row” in contemporary and historical lyrebird recordings from this area. Neither were they able to prove that a lyrebird chick had been a pet, although they acknowledged compelling evidence on both sides of the argument.
Lyrebirds are not endangered in the short to medium term. Albert's lyrebird has a very restricted habitat and had been listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, but because the species and its habitat were carefully managed, the species was re-assessed to near threatened in 2009. The superb lyrebird, once seriously threatened by habitat destruction, is now classified as common. Even so, lyrebirds are vulnerable to cats and foxes, and it remains to be seen if habitat protection schemes will stand up to increased human population pressure.
The lyrebird has been featured as a symbol and emblem many times, especially in New South Wales and Victoria (where the superb lyrebird has its natural habitat), and in Queensland (where Albert's lyrebird has its natural habitat).
The lyrebird is so called because the male bird has a spectacular tail, consisting of 16 highly modified feathers (two long slender lyrates at the centre of the plume, two broader medians on the outside edges and twelve filamentaries arrayed between them), which was originally thought to resemble a lyre. This happened when a superb lyrebird specimen (which had been taken from Australia to England during the early 19th century) was prepared for display at the British Museum by a taxidermist who had never seen a live lyrebird. The taxidermist mistakenly thought that the tail would resemble a lyre, and that the tail would be held in a similar way to that of a peacock during courtship display, and so he arranged the feathers in this way. Later, John Gould (who had also never seen a live lyrebird), painted the lyrebird from the British Museum specimen.
The male lyrebird's tail is not held as in John Gould's painting. Instead, the male lyrebird's tail is fanned over the lyrebird during courtship display, with the tail completely covering his head and back—as can be seen in the image in the 'breeding' section of this page, and also the image of the 10-cent coin, where the superb lyrebird's tail (in courtship display) is portrayed accurately.
Attenborough, D. 1998. The Life of Birds. p. 212 ISBN 0563-38792-0
Adobe Voco is an audio editing and generating prototype software by Adobe that enables novel editing and generation of audio. Dubbed "Photoshop-for-voice", it was first previewed at the Adobe MAX event in November 2016. The technology shown at Adobe MAX was a preview that could potentially be incorporated into Adobe Creative Cloud. As of May 2019, Adobe has yet to release any further information about a potential release date.Albert's lyrebird
Albert's lyrebird (Menura alberti) is a timid, pheasant-sized songbird which is endemic to subtropical rainforests of Australia, in a small area on the state border between New South Wales and Queensland. The rarer of the two species of lyrebirds, Albert's lyrebird is named after Prince Albert, the prince consort of Queen Victoria, queen of the United Kingdom. It lacks the elegant lyre-shaped tail feathers of the superb lyrebird and is found in a much more restricted range.
In the past, Albert's lyrebirds were shot to be eaten in pies, to supply tail-feathers to "globe-trotting curio-hunters" or by vandals.The total population of Albert's lyrebirds is estimated at only 3,500 breeding birds and it has one of the smallest distributional ranges of any bird on the continent.Australian ten-cent coin
The Australian ten-cent coin is a coin of the decimal Australian dollar. When the dollar was introduced as half of an Australian pound on 14 February 1966, the coin inherited the specifications of the pre-decimal shilling; both coins were worth one twentieth of a pound. On introduction it was the fourth-lowest denomination coin. Since the withdrawal from circulation of the one and two cent coins in 1992, it has been the second-lowest denomination coin in circulation.
For the first year of minting (1966), 30 million coins were produced at the British Royal Mint (then in London), and 11 million at the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra. Since then, all coins have been produced in Canberra, with the exception of 1981 when 40 million coins from the Royal Mint's new headquarters in Llantrisant, Wales supplemented the 76.1 million produced in Canberra.Years without issue were 1986, 1987, 1995 and 1996. The lowest mintage was in 2011, when 1.7 million coins were issued. There has been one commemorative issue for this denomination, the 50th anniversary of decimal currency in 2016.The image of a male superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) is displayed on the reverse of all ten-cent coin. It was designed by Stuart Devlin, who designed the reverses of all of the coins of the Australian dollar introduced in 1966.The obverse has displayed different designs featuring the head of Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia: from 1966 to 1984, the head by Arnold Machin; from 1985 to 1998, the head by Raphael Maklouf; from 1999 to 2015, and since 2017, the head by Ian Rank-Broadley. The obverse of these coins has the inscription AUSTRALIA and the year-of-issue on the right hand side, and ELIZABETH II on the left hand side. In 2016, (the 50th anniversary of decimal currency), the obverse was designed by G. K. Gray.Five-cent, ten-cent, twenty-cent, and fifty-cent coins are legal tender up to the sum of $5.Carrum Downs, Victoria
Carrum Downs is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 36 km south-east of Melbourne's Central Business District, located within the City of Frankston local government area. Carrum Downs recorded a population of 20,711 at the 2016 Census.
Prior to December 1994 the majority of Carrum Downs was within the City of Cranbourne. However, after statewide local government reform, the suburb was moved to be part of a new, larger City of Frankston.
In late 2006, RealEstatesource compiled a list of the top ten performing suburbs in Melbourne, Carrum Downs was ranked fourth with property showing a 94.4% median value increase since the real estate market's 'peak' of 2001. In January 2008, the 'Your Investment Property' periodical published an article on Carrum Downs, predicting an increased demand for residential and commercial property in the area, following the completion of the Eastlink project in June 2008.Child Catcher
The Child Catcher is a character in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the later stage musical adaptation. The character did not appear in the original Ian Fleming book. The Child Catcher is employed by Baron Bomburst and Baroness Bomburst to snatch and imprison children on the streets of Vulgaria.
In the 1968 film, he was played by ballet dancer Robert Helpmann. Whilst filming one of the scenes where the Child Catcher rides his horse and carriage out of the village, the Cage/Carriage uptilted with Helpmann on board. Dick Van Dyke recalls Helpmann being able to swing out of the carriage and literally skip across the crashing vehicle. According to Van Dyke, Helpmann did this with incredible grace and much like a dancer - which was Helpmann's original claim to fame.In the theatrical version in London's West End, he has been played by Richard O'Brien, Wayne Sleep (another ballet dancer), and Stephen Gately amongst others and on Broadway, he was played by Kevin Cahoon. In the Australian theatrical version, he was played by Tyler Coppin who wrote and performs a solo show about Robert Helpmann called LyreBird (Tales of Helpmann).In 2005, the Child Catcher was voted "the scariest villain in children's books", even though the character does not appear in Fleming's book itself. In fact, Roald Dahl, co-author of the film version's screenplay, originated the Child Catcher (as well as almost all of the Vulgarian scenes).
In 2008, Entertainment Weekly called Helpmann's depiction of the Child Catcher one of the "50 Most Vile Movie Villains."Cullen Bullen, New South Wales
Cullen Bullen is a village in New South Wales, Australia. It is located on Mudgee Road, 168 km north-west of Sydney, 28 km north of Lithgow. At the 2016 census, Cullen Bullen had a population of 279 people, up from 198 ten years earlier. The Cullen Bullen village is sustained by local mines and the Mount Piper Power Station.
In the language of the Wiradjuri people, who occupied the district prior to white settlement; the word "cullen bullen" is believed to mean "Lyrebird".The first European in the area was James Blackman, who was surveying a roadway from what is now Wallerawang to Mudgee, in 1821. Blackman was followed in 1822 by William Lawson and later Allan Cunningham in 1822-23.
Robert Dulhunty – the subsequent founder of Dubbo – took up the first land grant in the area in 1828. He built a homestead on land which now lies on the back road from Cullen Bullen to Portland.
By 1861 the post office opened at Cullen Bullen, and the school in 1875. The school moved to its current site in 1895.Garawarra State Conservation Area
The Garawarra State Conservation Area is a protected conservation area that is located on the southern suburban fringe of Greater Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, in eastern Australia. The 949-hectare (2,350-acre) reserve abuts the Royal National Park and is situated 40 kilometres (25 mi) south of the Sydney central business district, near Helensburgh. Garawarra was gazetted as a park in 1987, and added, together with the Royal National Park, to the Australian National Heritage List on 15 September 2006.Garawarra features heathland, eucalyptus forest, rainforest and wildflowers in late winter and early spring. Commonly seen wildlife include the Lyrebird and Echidna. The soils are based on Hawkesbury Sandstone and the Narrabeen group of sedimentary rocks. The climate is humid and temperate, with warm summers and mild winters. Rainfall is spread throughout the year, being in excess of 1,000 millimetres (39 in).Is It Possible?
Is It Possible? is a three-episode documentary television series on the Discovery Channel that features people, animals, technology, and other things that are real, but so unusual and surprising that they seem impossible.
The series is narrated by Robert Lee, who is also the narrator for Mythbusters. Executive producer is Dan Jbara.
The first episode aired on March 24, 2010, and included a contortionist, a blind man who uses echolocation, microscopic art by Willard Wigan, the fish Macropinna microstoma, a lyrebird, a man who roller skated on a roller coaster, and several other subjects.Kalorama, Victoria
Kalorama is a suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 35 km east of Melbourne's central business district. Its local government area is the Shire of Yarra Ranges. At the 2016 Census, Kalorama had a population of 1,239.
The suburb was first settled by Europeans around 1855 when Isaac Jeeves, Mathew Child and Jabez Richardson took up selections. The traditional custodians of the area are the Wurundjeri of the Kulin nation.
The Post Office opened on 1 October 1909, but was known as Hand's Corner until 1910, then Mount Dandenong North until 1926.The area, renowned for its beauty, is the site of a famous lookout point named "Five Ways" which overlooks Kalorama Park, Silvan Reservoir, the National Rhododendron Gardens, and the R.J. Hamer Arboretum. Nearby attractions include William Ricketts Sanctuary, Olinda Falls, a gallery, and a range of tea-rooms, cafes and stores.
The forests of the region are dominated by various eucalypt species including mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans), the tallest known angiosperm. The local wet sclerophyll forests form habitat for many species of native bird including the superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) which can be sometimes heard voicing its characteristic mimicry from the deeper gullies and south-eastern aspects.
The area has featured in the work of many Australian artists, including Sir Arthur Streeton.LyreBird (Tales of Helpmann)
LyreBird (Tales of Helpmann) is a play by Tyler Coppin about the life and career of Australian dancer, actor, director and choreographer Sir Robert Helpmann.
The one-man play premiered at the 1998 Adelaide Festival of Arts before touring Australia and to New Zealand. LyreBird Tales of Helpmann has been performed at the Sydney Opera House (Sydney Theatre Company), the City of London Festival, venues in the UK, and the 1999 and 2001 Edinburgh Festival. In 2007 the show played at the State Theatre Company of South Australia (Adelaide), and in 2008 performed at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, HotHouse Theatre (Albury Wodonga), and at venues throughout southern Australia. LyreBird played at the 24th Street Theatre in Sacramento, California, 5 to 22 February 2009.Lyrebird (film)
Lyrebird is an upcoming American film directed by Dan Friedkin and starring Guy Pearce, Claes Bang, Vicky Krieps, and Roland Møller.Menura tyawanoides
Menura tyawanoides is an extinct species of lyrebird from the Early Miocene of Australia. It was described by Walter Boles from fossil material (a complete left carpometacarpus) found in terrestrial limestone at the Upper Site of Riversleigh, in the Boodjamulla National Park of north-western Queensland. It was smaller than the two living species of lyrebirds. The specific epithet comes from tyawan (a Kumbainggiri term for the superb lyrebird) and the Greek suffix –oides (“resembling”).Mount Worth State Park
Mount Worth State Park is a state park in Victoria, Australia. It is located 15 km south of Warragul in the western Strzelecki Ranges. It offers rainforest walking trails and scenic views of Gippsland as well as across the Latrobe Valley to the Great Dividing Range.
The wet, mountain rainforest of mountain ash (with at least one specimen 90 metres tall, 7 metres wide and approaching the age of 300 years), blackwood and mountain grey gum supports a wide variety of plants and animals, such as the tree ferns, wombat, possum, platypus, crimson rosella, lyrebird and many others.Pheasants Nest, New South Wales
Pheasants Nest is a small village in the Macarthur Region of New South Wales, Australia, in Wollondilly Shire. It has a north bound and south bound roadhouse on the Hume Highway. At the 2016 census, Pheasants Nest had a population of 688 people. Pheasants Nest also serves as a freeway exit between Picton and Yerinbool.
Pheasants Nest was named after the Lyrebird, local to the Bargo area, which was mistakenly called a pheasant by early explorers.Sherbrooke Forest
Sherbrooke Forest lies at an altitude of 220-500 m within the Dandenong Ranges, 40 km east of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia, close to the suburb of Belgrave. The vegetation is classified as wet sclerophyll forest with the dominant tree species the mountain ash, Eucalyptus regnans, the tallest flowering plant in the world. From the mid-19th century until 1930 it was logged. In 1958 it was gazetted as a park, and in 1987 it was merged with Doongalla Reserve and Ferntree Gully National Park to form the 32.15 km2 Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Sherbrooke Forest is famous for its population of superb lyrebirds and was an early, and still important, site for the study and conservation of this species. One of the early lyrebird researchers and sound recordists of the 1930s was Raymond Littlejohns. Another researcher who analysed lyrebird song was Konstantin Halafoff.Strzelecki Ranges
The Strzelecki Ranges is a set of low mountain ridges located in the West Gippsland region of the Australian state of Victoria.
The Ranges are named after Paweł Edmund Strzelecki, a Polish explorer, who with the assistance of Charley Tarra the small party's Aboriginal guide, led an expedition through this region in 1840.They also form a biogeographic subregion of the South Eastern Highlands. “Land of the Lyrebird” is also a common alternative name for the Strzelecki Ranges based on a popular 1920s book.Superb lyrebird
The superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) is an Australian songbird, one of two species from the family Menuridae. It is one of the world's largest songbirds, and is renowned for its elaborate tail and courtship displays, and its excellent mimicry. The species is endemic to Australia and is found in forests in the south-east of the country. According to David Attenborough, the superb lyrebird displays the most sophisticated voice skills within the animal kingdom.Talking bird
Talking birds are birds that can mimic the speech of humans. There is debate within the scientific community over whether some talking parrots also have some cognitive understanding of the language. Birds have varying degrees of talking ability: some, like the corvids, are able to mimic only a few words and phrases, while some budgerigars have been observed to have a vocabulary of almost 2,000 words. The hill myna, a common pet, is well known for its talking ability and its relative, the European starling, is also adept at mimicry. Wild cockatoos in Australia have been reported to have learned human speech by cultural transmission from ex-captive birds that have integrated into the flock.The earliest reference to a talking bird comes from Ctesias in the 5th century BC. The bird which he called Bittacus, may have been a plum-headed parakeet.Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre
Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre (commonly referred to as L'Oiseau-Lyre) is a French music publishing company and a classical music record label that specialises in Early and Baroque music. It was founded in 1932 as a publisher of scholarly editions of Early music that had never been previously published. Its specialist recording arm, developed from the 1960s onwards, grew into a specialist label that is now a part of Decca.