Live Sounds: Listen To The Superb Lyrebird Imitate 10 Birds In 3 Minutes

This songbird can mimic everything from a kookaburra to a chainsaw. Podcast by Marc Anderson  
Superb lyrebird
The superb lyrebird imitates other bird calls, and also car alarms and camera shutters. Photo: Brian Ralphs/Flickr/Creative Commons (

If you’ve been amazed by birds mimicking sounds, such as parrots who say “Hello”, you’re going to be blown away by what we have today. Meet the superb lyrebird. The name isn’t an exaggeration.

This Australian native is the absolute king of the feathered world when it comes to imitating sounds, both manmade and natural. Apart from this incredible gift, the male superb lyrebird also has a beautiful tail which resembles a lyre when fanned out.

In the clip below, recorded by Marc Anderson, you might believe that there is an entire menagerie of songbirds but you’re wrong. It’s just a single superb lyrebird. In just this clip, the calls of over 10 birds are imitated – the bell miner, the Australian king parrot, the pied currawong and the golden whistler.

Here’s what Anderson had to say about the clip: “Many types of birds incorporate mimicry into their vocal repertoires. However, one species is simply extraordinary in its ability to accurately imitate even the most complex of sounds – the superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) of south-eastern Australia. Famous for it’s rich and beautiful song, this pheasant-sized songbird learns to mimic the sounds of other birds in a way like no other. From the cackling laughter of a kookaburra, to the strident ‘whipcrack’ of the eastern whipbird, lyrebirds are so accurate that even the original is sometimes fooled. Up to 80 per cent of the superb lyrebird’s song consists of mimicry, and it’s not unusual for an individual male lyrebird to have mastered the calls of 20-25 species of bird.”



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