The superb lyrebird’s song, dance and incredible vocal mimicry

0

  • On this special show, we replay one of our favorite Field Notes episodes, featuring recordings of a songbird known for its own ability to replay sounds, including elaborate vocal displays and amazing mimicry of other species’ songs and even of trees blowing in the wind.
  • Male superb lyrebirds are extravagantly feathered creatures who clear patches of forest floor to prepare a stage on which they dance and sing their complex songs in order to attract a mate.
  • Female superb lyrebirds also sing plus they mimic other species as well as sounds from their environment, such as the creaking of trees in the wind.
  • Anastasia Dalziell discussed her study detailing findings on the vocal mimicry of male superb lyrebirds and the dances the birds use to accompany specific songs. She also discussed a previous study of hers looking at the mimetic vocal displays of female superb lyrebirds, which she said “highlights the hidden complexity of female vocalizations” in songbirds.

It’s summer in the North and we’re on holiday! So for today’s show, we replay one of our favorite Field Notes episodes, featuring field recordings of the superb lyrebird, an Australian songbird known for its elaborate vocal displays and mimicry of other species’ songs.

Listen here:

 

Almost exactly one year ago, on August 21, 2018, we first ran this conversation I had with Anastasia Dalziell, an ornithologist who has studied the superb lyrebird extensively. Male superb lyrebirds are extravagantly colored and feathered creatures who clear patches of forest floor to prepare themselves a sort of stage on which they dance and sing their complex songs in order to attract a mate. The birds’ repertoire doesn’t only include originals, however — sometimes they like to show off by mimicking the songs of other species so convincingly that even members of that species are fooled.

Female superb lyrebirds are also known to sing songs and to make calls that capably mimic other species as well as sounds from their environment, such as the creaking of trees blowing in the wind. Even the clicks of camera shutters and the buzz of chainsaws are ‘replayed’ by these animals.

When we spoke, Anastasia Dalziell and I discussed a study she had just published detailing her findings on the vocal mimicry of male superb lyrebirds and the dances the birds use to accompany specific songs. She also discussed a previous study of hers looking at the mimetic vocal displays of female superb lyrebirds, which she said “highlights the hidden complexity of female vocalizations” in songbirds. And she played a number of lyrebird recordings so you can hear the mimicry for yourself.

Superb lyrebird in Marysville State Forest, Australia (© Donovan Wilson).

Would you like to hear how Mongabay grew out of its founder’s childhood adventures in rainforests and a fascination with frogs? Or how a Mongabay editor reacted to meeting one of the world’s last Bornean rhinos? We now offer Insider Content that delivers behind-the-scenes reporting and stories like these from our team. For a small monthly donation, you’ll get exclusive access and support our work in a new way. Visit mongabay.com/insider to learn more and join the growing community of Mongabay readers on the inside track.

If you enjoy the Mongabay Newscast, we ask that you please consider becoming a monthly sponsor via our Patreon page, at patreon.com/mongabay. Just a dollar per month will really help us offset the production costs and hosting fees, so if you’re a fan of our audio reports from nature’s frontline, please support the Mongabay Newscast at patreon.com/mongabay.

You can subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast on Android, the Google Podcasts app, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, RSS, Castbox, Pocket Casts, or wherever you like to get podcasts, including Pandora and Spotify. Or listen to any of our episodes via the Mongabay website here on the podcast homepage.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.



This story first appeared on Mongabay

South Africa Today – Environment



This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Mongabay, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

Disclaimer: The views of authors published on South Africa Today are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of South Africa Today. By viewing, visiting, using, or interacting with SouthAfricaToday.net, you are agreeing to all the provisions of the Terms of Use Policy and the Privacy Policy.