Nadiah Roslan

Superb Lyrebird

Menura novaehollandiae

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
FactBox Image

A native pheasant up to 1 m, including tail. Plain rich brown above, coppery on wings, deep grey below; legs and feet dark grey, powerful.

Tail of male long and train-like, of two clubbed ‘lyrates’ about 60 cm long usually horizontal; 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) is simpler, drooping and pointed, lyrates smaller, often hidden; typically looks twisted.

The nest is a bulky mound 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.

Size

86 cm female, 100 cm male

Behaviour

Call

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.

Diet

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 single egg and cares for the young. The egg is stone-grey, deep khaki brown or purple-brown, spotted, streaked, blotched grey and black.

Species: WhatToObserve Image

What to Observe

  • Courting/Mating

  • Nest present

  • Calling

  • Feeding

  • Bird on chicks

  • Bird on eggs

  • Bird on nest

  • Bird feeding young

Species: WhenAndWhere Image

When and Where

When To Look

Year round. Breeds June to October.

Where To Look

  • South-eastern Australian mainland and southern Tasmania
  • In temperate, subtropical rainforests, forests, woodlands, fern gullies and adjacent gardens
Species: WhatElse Image

What Else?

Similar Species

Albert’s Lyrebird (Menura alberti) 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.