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Superb Lyrebird

About Superb Lyrebird

This is a large pheasant-like bird with a slightly crested crown. Rich brown above, grayish-brown below; throat tinged rufous. Bare bluish-black facial skin; brown eyes with pale eye-ring; gray legs and bill. Male has a very long tail, with two broad lyre-shaped feathers, two slender ribbon-like feathers and 12 lacy filamentous feathers.

This bird breeds from June to October. The male has more than one mate and builds a large domed nest of sticks, leaves, roots, bark and moss, with a side entrance, lined with feathers, on the ground under cover. The female will lay a single gray or purplish brown egg, streaked and spotted, that is incubated by the female for up to 50 days.

Like a lot of birds with extravagant plumage, the Superb Lyrebird is an elusive inhabitant of dense forests. At night it roosts high in the forest canopy, beyond the reach of the ground predators. It does not fly well but prefers to glide. In the daylight hours it will dig in the leaf litter and soil and rip away the loose bark of fallen trees to get at small animals such as worms, beetle grubs, spiders and centipedes.

In the winter the male claims a patch of forest as his own territory, and makes a series of mounds and uses them as stages, then starts to sing and display by spreading his tail feathers in a silvery fan and arching them forward over his head.

The male Lyrebirds are great mimics; they can copy the call of up to 16 different birds. They can even copy artificial sounds, such as car alarms and ringing telephones.