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Superb Lyrebird

Yes, that is it’s real name and he can sing like a chainsaw!


The Superb Lyrebird singing for his female.


I had read about the Superb Lyrebird and wanted to see one in nature. So when I went to Melbourne recently, a well known Melbourne bird guide, Paul Hackett, took me to find one. First a little background about this bird.....


Paul Hackett, Melbourne birding guide

He’s bodacious, and bold. He croons the sweetest love songs, sports very fancy clothes, struts dance moves more stylish than the Argentine Tango, and pronounces his love from a specially prepared stage. Modern day rock star? No we are talking about the Superb Lyrebird.


Unlike the male Resplendent Quetzal who sheds his impressive four-foot tail each year to help his partner build the nest and feed its young, the male Lyrebird has no parental duties AT ALL so he is free to prance around, and prance he does. He builds a dirt mound on which he stands and mimics the sounds of all the birds around him. He can even mimic a chain saw and camera shutter. If you find that hard to believe, you can see this for yourself on BBC’s Life of Birds with David Attenborough, and it's THE DAVID, so you can believe it. If the smaller and plain female is drawn nearby by his 23 songs, she is treated to an amazing mating ritual. The male flips his lyre shaped fancy long tail over his head and dances an ancient preset choreography wired into his DNA. Dancing With The Stars judges would score him a 10.

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The female must be choosy. After mating with him, she will be a single mother. She will build the nest, feed the young and protect them all by herself. Because she is careful in her choice, he must go to these extremes to woo her and pass on his genes.


Lyrebirds live in South Australia in the Dandenong hills outside Melbourne. Paul and i walked about two miles down Lyrebird and Newman's Tracks, a path in a pristine eucalyptus forest peppered with tree ferns. A small dark worm dropped on my arm from the tree. “Oh don’t worry, Paul said, it’s just a leech”.


Eucalyptus forest in the Dandenong hills.

The male Lyrebird's dirt mound. Photo by Paul Hackett.

Near the bottom of the gully, Paul pointed out a three-foot round dirt mount that the male Lyrebird cleared in the brush, his dance platform. In the distance, we heard him singing. Finally Paul spotted him in the brush. As I crept slowly nearer to the male, he was singing non stop. Vines prevented a clear shot before he departed, but I was able to click a couple of images and record a few of his songs. He was very impressive. The only thing that could impress me more is if he would help with some of the baby raising duties!


A male Lyrebird singing for his mate.

Side view of Lyrebird showing his long tail feathers.

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Love it. GREAT JOB! So happy to think of you as a friend.

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Susan Rouillier
Bird Photographer and Painter

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