Superb Lyrebird

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Common Name: Superb Lyrebird
Scientific Name: Menura novaehollandiae

Size: 39¼ inches (100 cm); female’s tail: 74-84 cm, male’s tail 80-98 cm in length.

Habitat: Australia; found in the forests of southeastern Australia, from southern Victoria to southeastern Queensland.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: Unknown.

Diet: Mainly of small invertebrates found on the forest floor or in rotting logs.

Nesting: The male is the bearer of the most elegant of all tails. The tail has sixteen feathers, with the two outermost being lyre-shaped. Next within are two guard plumes and twelve long, lace-like feathers, known as filamentaries. Seven years is required for the tail to fully develop. During courtship display, the male inverts his tail over his head, fanning his feathers to form a silvery white canopy. Young males and females have brown tail feathers which are camouflaged against the forest floor.

Superb lyrebirds breed in the depth of winter. Adult males start singing half an hour before sunrise from roosts high above the forest floor. Superb lyrebirds sing less often at other times of year but a stroll through their habitat on a rainy or misty day will sometimes find them active.

Superb lyrebirds have a promiscuous mating system. During the breeding season adult females and males defend separate territories and only females care for young. A female may visit several males before she mates but it is not known if she mates more than once. The female lays a single egg and builds a domed nest often camouflaging it with ferns or moss. The chick spends about nine months with the female before becoming independent.

Cool Facts: The superb lyrebird has an extraordinary ability to accurately mimic a huge variety of sounds from phone rings to chainsaws to songs heard over the radio and the content of the calls are unique to each individual Lyrebird

Lyrebirds are ancient Australian animals. The Australian Museum has fossils of lyrebirds dating back to about 15 million years ago. The prehistoric Menura tyawanoides has been described from early Miocene fossils found at the famous Riversleigh site.

The Superb Lyrebird is featured on the reverse side of the Australian 10 cent coin.

A group of Lyrebirds is called a musket.

Found in Songbird ReMix Australia Volume I

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