The Master Mimic

In celebration of this week’s #DailyWildlifePick I decided to share one of my favorite animals and a definite master of disguise, the Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae).

Photo License: CC BY-NC Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

This species is one of only two lyrebirds in existence. The other is the smaller, near threatened Albert’s lyrebird. It gets its name from its wondrous tail that’s shaped like a lyre, a small Greek hand-held harp, as well as the fact that it is bigger than the other lyrebird species. Like peacocks, the males use their flamboyant tails in courtship displays to attract females. While they’re moderately camouflaged for life on the floor of the Tasmanian and eastern Australian rainforests they live in, their real mastery is revealed once they open their beaks. These birds have perfected the art of sound mimicry. Both males and females can not only copy the natural sounds around them like several species of birds, but captive individuals have been known to add some extraordinary man-made noises to their repertoire.

If you’re a birder or just generally interested in seeing wildlife for yourself, you’ll be happy to know that these birds are still pretty common, although the population is in a state of decline. You’ll most likely catch this bird scratching around in the dirt, foraging for insects, other invertebrates and seeds. Just be careful not to startle them. If you scare this bird it’s very likely that they will sprint away, sounding an alarm the whole way.

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