The lyrebird (genus Menura) is one of two Australian bird species named for the look of its tail when stretched in courting display (family Menuridae, order Passeriformes).
The name is frequently associated with a guitarist. Lyrebirds are forest dwellers that inhabit southeastern Australia’s woodlands. Their brown bodies are similar to chickens’. The male splendid lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) has eight pairs of elaborate feathers on his tail that, when upright, resemble a lyre. There are six pairs of filmy white feathers.
The breeding season takes place during the wet winter months when insect food is plentiful.
The nest is a huge stick pile, generally, on the ground, that shelters a solitary lyrebird egg in a roomy chamber. The female is in charge of nest construction and incubation and is similar to the male except for tail development.
The Menura and its family Menuridae comprise two species of lyrebirds, which are ground-dwelling Australian birds.
They’re famous for their extraordinary ability to replicate natural and artificial noises in their environment, as well as the stunning beauty of the male bird’s huge tail, fanned out in courtship display. Lyrebirds, with their unique plumes of neutral-colored tail feathers, are one of Australia’s most well-known native birds.
The classification of lyrebirds sparked significant debate once the first specimens arrived in Europe in 1798.
In 1800, Major-General Thomas Davies depicted and described the magnificent lyrebird as Menura superb to the Linnean Society of London. His study was based on specimens supplied to England from New South Wales.
Lyrebirds were thought to be Galliformes, similar to European ducks, junglefowl, and pheasants, as evidenced by early names for the magnificent lyrebird, such as local pheasant.
Other names for them were peacock-wrens and Australian birds of paradise. The assumption that altricial chicks were comparable to pheasants was dispelled when the first altricial chicks were reported. They were not classified as passerines until 1840, twelve years after being given to the Menuridae tribe. Within that family, they comprise a single genus, Menura.
The lyrebird family is thought to be most closely related to scrub-birds (Atrichornithidae), and some authorities put them together as a single family, however, evidence suggesting they are also related to bowerbirds is debatable. Lyrebirds are ancient Australian creatures, having fossils going back 15 million years that may be found in the Australian Museum.
The extinct Menura Tyawanoides was identified using early Miocene fossils unearthed at the renowned Riversleigh site.
There are two species of lyrebirds:
The superior lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) is an Australian lyrebird in the Menuridae family. It belongs to one of two species.
It is one of the world’s biggest songbirds, famed for its elaborate tail and courting displays, as well as its outstanding mimicry. The species is endemic to Australia, where it may be found in the southeast forest. The majestic lyrebird possesses “the most sophisticated, nuanced, and exquisite singing talents in the animal kingdom,” according to David Attenborough.
Lyrebirds are an extinct kind of Australian lyrebird.
The Australian Museum houses lyrebird fossils dating back roughly 15 million years.
The extinct Menura tyawanoides was identified using early Miocene fossils unearthed at the renowned Riversleigh site. The magnificent lyrebird may be found in the woods of southeastern Australia, from southern Victoria to southeastern Queensland.
Albert’s lyrebird (Menura Alberti) is a secretive, pheasant-sized songbird found exclusively in Australia’s subtropical rainforests, in a small area along the state line between New South Wales and Queensland.
Albert’s songbird is the rarest of the two lyrebird species, named for Prince Albert, the Prince Consort of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. It lacks the magnificent lyre-shaped tail feathers of the superb lyrebird and lives in a considerably limited region.
Historically, Albert’s lyrebirds have been shot for use in desserts, to furnish tail feathers to “globe-trotting curio-hunters,” or by vandals.
The female’s tail is shorter, simpler, somewhat drooping, and more pointed when closed; it is composed of a pair of long, thin, tapering median plumes and fully webbed, wide, brown feathers with rounded ends but no filamentary. While walking, the male wears his tail in an upward-curving train.
Voice of the Lyrebird
A lyrebird’s voice is one of its most distinguishing characteristics. Lyrebirds sing all year, but the mating season, which lasts from June to August, is when they sing the loudest. They can sing for up to four hours a day during this period, which is about half of the day. Parts of the wonderful lyrebird’s song are combined with a range of other imitation sounds and noises.
The syrinx of the lyrebird is the most complexly muscled of all passerines (songbirds), giving it an unrivaled vocal range and mimicking abilities.
This species, like the excellent lyrebird, has a powerful, flexible vocal and sings in lengthy, unbroken stretches utilizing a combination of sounds and imitation of other species.
In comparison to the splendid lyrebird, Albert’s lyrebird mimics a fewer number of species, including the green catbird and satin bowerbird, as well as whip birds and rosellas.
The lyrebird’s vocal alternates between deep, resonant notes one second and high, tiny squeaks and trills the next. Some musical portions begin with a calm, mellow sound that gradually grows clearer and louder, reminiscent of a dingo howl.
During the winter mating season, males call for many hours a day and remain quiet at all times. When the birds are scared, they let out a loud screech. Even when calling loudly, this cautious and secretive species is difficult to spot amid its habitat’s dense mixed vegetation, poor light, and watchful birds.
System of Breeding
Lyrebirds have a long mating season and are long-lived birds, surviving up to thirty years.
In addition, they breed later than most passerine species. Female splendid lyrebirds begin reproducing around five to six years of age, while males begin breeding at six to eight years of age. Males defend territories against other males, and their territories can contain up to eight female breeding territories. Males construct or utilize display platforms inside their territory; in the case of the splendid lyrebird, this is a mound of bare soil, but in the case of Albert’s lyrebird, it is a pile of twigs on the forest floor.
Throughout the winter, male lyrebirds sing and dance in courtship displays on an open arena mound in heavy brush, while building and retaining an open arena mound to show to possible companions, of which the male lyrebird has enough.
The weight, length, and position of the female lyrebird’s nest are influenced by rain and predation throughout the nest-building phase. To avoid predators from attacking the nest, it must be water-resistant and hidden in quiet areas. Once the nest is built in the ideal location, the female lyrebird lays a single egg (lyrebird eggs). For 50 days, the female is the only incubator of the egg and the sole caregiver of the chick.
Habitat and Distribution
The magnificent lyrebird may be found in rainforest regions in Victoria, New South Wales, and southeast Queensland.
It may also be found in Tasmania, where it was introduced in Europe in the nineteenth century. Many spectacular lyrebirds may be found in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges National Park and Kinglake National Park, Sydney’s Royal National Park, and the Illawarra region, as well as many other parks and non-protected wilderness throughout Australia’s east coast. Albert’s lyrebird lives in an isolated section of the Southern Queensland rainforest.
Most of the lyrebird’s habitat was destroyed throughout the nineteenth century. While the species was still prevalent in lowland regions around the turn of the century, habitat loss has moved most populations to higher altitude woods, usually at least 300 meters above sea level. The bird’s range has shrunk to a few tiny mountain ranges in far south-east Queensland and far north-east New South Wales, with the majority of the remaining habitat located in national parks.
Albert’s lyrebird may be found in Queensland from Tamborine Mountain and Springbrook National Park in the east to the McPherson Range in the west. There are isolated populations in Mount Barney National Park and the Main Range.
The highest single city is located on the Lamington Plateau. Albert’s lyrebirds were once seen in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and the D’Aguilar Ranges, but they have since disappeared.
Nutrition and Feeding
Lyrebirds consume food on the ground. Invertebrates obtained include cockroaches, beetles (both adults and larvae), earwigs, fly larvae, and both adult and larvae. Other prey collected include centipedes, spiders, and earthworms. Less common prey items include stick flies, spiders, amphipods, lizards, frogs, and seeds. They forage for food by burrowing their claws into the leaf litter.
The Albert’s lyrebird appears to eat primarily insects and their larvae, as well as other soil-dwelling invertebrates. They spend much of their time foraging on the ground, especially in regions with deep damp leaf litter and fallen trees, but they also browse among epiphytic ferns on occasion.
The food of the magnificent lyrebird is mostly composed of invertebrates found on the forest floor, such as earthworms and insects. According to the facts, the birds are also Mycophagists, which means they eat mushrooms.
Did you know about Lyrebird logos and symbols?
The lyrebird has served as a symbol and icon on multiple occasions, particularly in New South Wales, Victoria (home to the splendid lyrebird), and Queensland (home to Albert’s lyrebird).
The back of the Australian 10-cent coin depicts a magnificent lyrebird.
A stylized magnificent lyrebird features in the glass window of the Australian $100 note.
The first Australian one-shilling postal stamp, released in 1932, depicts a lovely lyrebird.
The logo of the Australian Film Commission is a silhouette of a male magnificent lyrebird.
The emblem of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service depicts a male magnificent lyrebird in a courting display.
The curtains of the Victorian State Theatre show a depiction of a male magnificent lyrebird in courting display as seen from the front.
The lyrebird also appears on the crest of Alpha Chi Omega, a Panhellenic Sorority with the lyre as its symbol.
The Betoota Advocate’s masthead depicts a silhouetted male magnificent lyrebird in courting display.
Many other companies use the name Lyrebird and have lyrebird logos.