Sunday, October 09, 2011

Superb Lyrebird mimicry: recording!

I've previously posted about the Superb Lyrebirds (Menura novaehollandiae) in our garden, with the promise that one day I'd upload audio. Today is that day!

Since we've been living here, the lyrebirds have become increasing common and less fearful. Their increased abundance is probably due in part to cat and fox baiting in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park which anecdotally has increased populations of a range of other native fauna, including the Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus obesulus) and the Australian Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami), all of which visit our place. I suspect that the lyrebirds are particularly attracted to our garden because I do a lot of mulching, grow only native plants, and avoid the use of pesticides, so there are plenty of leaf litter invertebrates for them to feast on.

Foreground: a juvenile male.
Background: a female.

A male.

This is a recording I made this morning using my phone. Since then I've been fiddling about, converting the sound file to an .mp3, finding a host to upload it to, and sourcing a widget. I hope it plays okay on your computer. It does on mine (huzzah!).

All the sounds you can hear are the lyrebird's song, mimicking other species, with the exception of the "dock" sound, which is the call of a Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peronii) in the pond. Among the birds it's mimicking are an Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus) and a Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae). At 18 seconds is a sound in the repertoire I haven't been able to identify. It doesn't sound like a bird....


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Margaret
Well done with the recording, and posting via a suitable hosting site.
It did work.
The sounds at 18 seconds have been interpreted by David Attenborough (no less) as "camera shutter". His famous recording came from Sherbrooke Forest in Victoria, where the birds were famous tourist attractions.
But I believe it is simply one of their favourite noises - something they like to do, because they can.
An Occam's Razor interpretation.

Boobook said...

Well done you :)

Margaret said...

Thanks Denis and Boobook!

Denis, I tend to agree with you regarding the "camera" noise. I know the recording you're talking about and mine is somewhat different, but like you, I think it might just be an innate part of their repertoire, rather than necessarily a form of mimicry.

Bill Rockenbeck said...

Neat! Though all of the calls sound "foreign" to my North American ears. The 18-second thing sure sounds like something out of a video game.

Margaret said...

Bill, it'd be so fascinating to raise Superb Lyrebirds in an environment where the only sounds they heard were birds of a different ecosystem. I wonder how quickly they'd be able to learn the sounds of birds they hadn't co-evolved with.