Lyrebirds

Lyrebirds are covered with brown feathers.

They live in forests and woods in Australia.

They have wings but stay on the ground most of the time.

Lyrebirds eat insects, spiders, beetles and worms.

Male lyrebirds can copy many sounds.

Lyrebirds belong to a group of birds called passiforms.There are 2 species (kinds) of lyrebird:
the Superb lyrebird, which is about the size of a rooster, and Albert's lyrebird, which is the smaller of the two.

Albert's lyrebird is the rarer of the two, and doesn't have the same tail feathers as the superb lyrebird.

Appearance
The Superb lyrebird gets its name because of the tail of the male bird. When the tail is raised over his head, it looks like an ancient musical stringed instrument called a lyre. The male carries the tail low most of the time, but when he is trying to attract a female during the mating season, he spreads his tail and raises it over his head. When he does this, the tail covers his body and head. The tail can be as long as 60 centimetres when the male is fully grown at about 8 years old.

Lyrebirds have mostly brown feathers and although they have wings, they don't often fly. They move about the forests on foot, running and jumping quickly on their short legs. They have four claws on each leg. At night they roost in trees.

Lyrebirds have long, pointed bills which they use to catch worm, spiders, beetles and insects.

Behaviours
To court a female, the male makes several mounds of earth which he uses as performance platforms around his territory. He dances and sings on the mounds. He extends his tail and holds it over his back and head so that his body is under it. He shivers the tail and sings his own sounds, and also sounds of the forest and other sounds he has heard, even chainsaws, cars and cameras. Each lyrebird has his own song, made up of the particular sounds he has heard and imitated in his territory. Several females will be attracted to his performances.

Life Cycle
After mating with a male, a female lays one egg in a nest built on the ground or around the stump of a tree or fern. The nest is up to about 10 cm high and about 70 cm wide and made of sticks and leaves. The egg hatches in about six weeks and the young lyrebird stays in the nest for about six weeks. The female feeds her young.

Conservation status
Lyrebirds are a protected species. Albert's lyrebird is classified as Vulnerable (the stage before endangered). The Superb lyrebird was once almost extinct, but is now not threatened. However, both species need to be protected from feral cats and foxes, and their forest habitats are affected by human activity such as logging and four-wheel driving.

The Australian 10 cent coin features a Superb lyrebird on one side

You can see a lyrebird and hear some of its songs on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjE0Kdfos4Y

Go here to read more about the Superb lyrebird:
http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Lyrebirds

http://birdsinbackyards.net/finder/display.cfm?id=1

http://museumvictoria.com.au/forest/animals/lyrebird.html

See a female lyrebird and her nest here:

http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/Superb-Lyrebird-at-Nest/

Read about Albert's Lyrebird here:

http://www.arkive.org/alberts-lyrebird/menura-alberti/

If you use any part of this in your own work, acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. Lyrebirds [Online] www.kidcyber.com.au(2000).

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updated December 2010 ©kidcyber