Go mbeannai Dia duit.

About Me

My photo
Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tuesday Trivia.

"I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something." Richard Feynman
When we were courting Dearest & I spent a lot of time in the 2nd oldest National Park in the world [only Yellowstone is older], the Royal National Park on the southern outskirts of Sydney, partly because it was local for us & partly because it is a most extraordinary environment & is now a World Heritage listed park.  We would arrive late in the afternoon, just as everyone else was packing up to leave to walk & picnic in relative peace.  It was on one of these excursions we were treated to a most extraordinary display.

Lyre birds are notoriously shy.  Even if they are around most people won't realise it because they are one of the world's greatest mimickers.  Not only do they mimick other bird's songs they can duplicate the sound of a chainsaw or drill, the thwack of hammer & nails, the car alarm, a transistor radio, & even the human voice. They really are astounding.  They are almost never seen singly & never in groups.

On this particular day we were sitting quiely at a picnic table just enjoying the solitude when a group of young birds suddenly appeared frolicking & gamboling like the funniest of clowns.  We were delighted & absolutely rivited.  They were real show~offs!  I don't know why but they had absoluely no fear of us & came right up to our table & were prancing all around us.  Not even the arrival of more people frightened them off but though the others tried very hard to tempt them closer they remained round us until they went carousing off through the scrub as they chased each other over the hill & far away.

The lyre bird is known for 2 things: the males' suburb tail feathers used in his mating display & the mimicry with which he calls in order to attract a mate.  Winter is the time they build a mound in an open space & begin their mating rituals.  The female is also a mimic but calls less frequently & does not have the wonderful tail feathers being a rather plump, dowdy little bird looking more like a sad little chook than anything else. She builds a messy nest on the ground for her single egg & is a sole parent, incubating her egg for 50 days & rasing her chick without help from the male.

These amazing birds have been known to shelter in wombat holes or join miners down mine shafts when threatened by bush fires.  Their syrinx is the most complexly muscled of any of the passerines [song birds] giving them extraordinary range & ability.  Mr Wiki gives some extraordinary antedotal evidence about some of the sounds these birds are capable of & for your enjoyment I include this you~tube clip.


Unknown said...

I have seen that video before and that bird is impressive! I mean I have heard parrots that friends have had for pets, but that bird has such skill to just mimic call after call after call! They must be a real treat to see live and in person.

Finding Joy said...

It is just amazing to listen to these birds, I just love the chainsaw, it was spot on and the camera is quite funny. I wonder what goes through their little brains and if they think about which sound to make. . . do they find it funny!!!

Duchess said...

I had Bruce confused one day we went for a ride through "Natio" on the bikes as he waited for me up at the Stanwell Tops lookout, wondering what was keeping me.

I'd been slowed by not one Lyre bird but two! So much for them being shy and alone! The first one darted out across my path and as the park speed limit is now down to 70km/hr, even 60 in some spots, I had time to realise what I'd just seen run across the road and slowed nearly to a stop to get a good look as it then casually strutted off into the bush! I really wanted to stop to hear if the bird had taken a liking to making any motorcycle sounds and if so, which ones!!

Sadly, the second one I came across was a victim of a run in with a vehicle. I actually was angry that someone had hit one and wondered how on earth they could, only being allowed to travel so slowly on that road.

In all my years of going through that park, that was the first time I had ever seen Lyre birds there! And two in one day!

seekingmyLord said...

So interesting! I have enjoyed the different calls of mocking birds but this one way more cool!

Julie said...

I have never seen anything like this. I love birds and this one "takes the cake," as they say. :D

Ganeida said...

Birbitt: They are so coo! Without the tail they aren't anything special to look at but the sounds they can make!

Jo: makes you wonder. If you visit Mt Wiki you will see one is on record as mixing claasical flute with beatbox.

Duchess: They have such a reputation for shyness that I coundn't have been more surprised at how extrovertedly funny this little group was. Yet that is the one & only time we ever saw lyre birds in the park & we spent a lot of time in there. I have once seen a bird up here ~ & only realised what it was because I'd seen them once before.

Seeking: the coolest!

Julie: He does, doesn't he? I'm a sucker for a good mimic. ☺