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Australia My Land

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"The lyrebirds are only found in Australia!"

Lyrebirds are the largest song birds

Australian LyrebirdAustralian Lyrebird

The name LYRE - bird came from the male bird because of it's tail being shaped like a musical stringed instrument which is called a "lyre" when he raises it above his head.

There are two types of Lyrebird, the Superb Lyrebird which is about the size of a large hen, and Albert's Lyrebird, which is a little smaller. Albert's lyrebird is the rarer bird and doesn't have the same tail feathers as the superb lyrebird.

The Superb Lyrebird is a reddish-brown bird. The Superb Lyrebird is a reddish-brown bird and can look like a large brown chicken (hen) or some say pheasant. Most have brown rufous feathers and although they have wings, they don't fly much its more of a scoot up and over thing as they move about. Their bill, legs and feet are black. They move about the forests floor on foot, scooting, running and jumping sort of quickly on their short legs.

Lyrebirds have long, pointed bills which they use to catch worm, spiders, beetles and insects and occasionally, seeds, they have four claws on each leg. The bird finds its food by scratching with its feet through the leaf-litter usually on there own, but females and young males can often be seen feeding together.

At night the birds roost in trees and can be found throughout south-eastern Australian and southern Tasmania in the rainforests. They are ground-dwelling species and like the moist forests. Birds are sedentary, rarely travelling further than about 10 km and don't move large distances. They can be difficult bird to seek out, stalk and observe because they move so quickly, the best recommended way to see the bird is by quietly walking the tracks during the early hours.

The adult lyrebird male has the ornate tail, which has special curved feathers that he is able to expand and display in the shape of a lyre. The tails of the younger males and females and are also long, but do not have the specialized feather. The male normally has the tail lowered but raises it above its head to show off to females during the mating season. At a time when the male is at about 8 years old or fully grown the tail can be as long as 60 centimetres. Females are smaller than males.

The lyrebirds breeding season begins from late May and runs to early August. When courting is about to start the male scraps up piles of dirt creating a sort of stages near and around his territory. When the females are near he starts the show, by dancing and singing on the mounds. He makes up his own sounds, and also mimics or imitates sounds of the forest and a number of other sounds he may have heard, cars, bell, cameras and birds among other things. A number of females can be attracted to his on stage performances.

After he has won her over and they have mated the female will lay only one egg in nest she has created which will be four metre high built on the ground or around a fallen tree stump. The egg will hatch in about six weeks and the young lyrebird will stay in the nest for further six weeks. The female alone builds the nest, incubates the eggs, feeds and cares for the young.


Photos courtesy of Jon Walton


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