Native pheasant up to 1 m, including tail. Plan rich brown above, coppery on wings; deep grey below; legs and feet dark grey, powerful.
Tail of male long and train-like, usually horizontal: of two clubbed ‘lyrates’ about 60 cm long; glossy black and rufous above, silvery below, with notched ‘windows’; two slender, curved, ribbon-like guard-plumes’ and 12 lacy filamentaries, black above, silvery below. Moults annually. Full tail acquired at 6-8 years.
Tail of female (and immature male): simpler, drooping and pointed, lyrates smaller, often hidden; typically looks twisted.
Nest: domes, bulky; of sticks, bark, fern fronds and moss; on ground, bank, rock shelf, in stump or head of tree fern or to 25 m in a tree fork.
Egg: 1; stone-grey, deep khaki brown or purple-brown, spotted, streaked, blotched grey and black.
Mimicry: The Superb Lyrebird is renowned for its outstanding ability to mimic almost any sound, and it can imitate the calls of most birds of the forest.
Feeding: They scratch through leaf litter with their feet to feed on insects, spiders, worms, and, occasionally, seeds. Females and young males may be seen feeding together.
Breeding: The male secures a territory, attracting potential mates by singing and dancing on one of several display mounds within it, while throwing the tail forward over the body and shaking it in display. Female builds the nest, incubates the egg and cares for the young.
What to Observe
•Bird on chicks
•Bird on eggs
•Bird on nest
•Bird feeding young
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
Lyrebirds live in moist forests and rely on damp habitats to ground-dwelling invertebrates that make up most of their diet. Shifts in climate may threaten their food sources, dry out their habitat and impact their breeding biology as the weather warms.
When To Look
Year round. Breeds June – October.
Where To Look
South-eastern Australian mainland and southern Tasmania. In temperate, subtropical rainforests, forests, woodlands, fern gullies and adjacent gardens.
Pizzey & Knight (2007) The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
Superb Lyrebird Mimicry © Tony Howard, reached at BirdLife Australia www.birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/superb-lyrebird
Albert’s Lyrebird looks similar but is restricted to an area around the Border Ranges, on the Queensland-New South Wales border. The Albert’s Lyrebird is redder in colour and the male's tail is less elaborate.
Did You Know?
Superb lyrebirds are one of the best mimics in the bird world. They have been recorded copying other bird and animal calls perfectly, plus a range of other sounds including chainsaws, camera shutters, tractors and car alarms.
New research has revealed this iconic songbird reduces the risk of bushfire by spreading dry leaf litter and digging safe havens that help other species survive fires.
Listen to the Call