Lyrebirds: The Animal Kingdom’s Best Vocal Mimics (Video)

If you ever find yourself in the rainforest of Australia between the months of June and August, you might come across one of the most unique courtship displays you’ve ever seen.

During this peak mating season, male lyrebirds pull out all the stops to try to attract females. After finding a good open spot for their courtship performance, the males fan out their impressive tail plumage and begin singing.

What does a male lyrebird’s song sound like? Well, that depends on what other birds he’s been around lately. Rather than just singing its own unique song, the lyrebird mimics the calls of other birds and mixes these sounds into its performance.

Occasionally, the bird will also mix in some distinctly human sounds that it picks up in the forest. Check it out in the video below (courtesy of the BBC):

Of all the songbirds in the world, the lyrebird has the most complexly-muscled syrinx (the vocal organ found in birds).

This complexity gives them an extremely wide range of vocal abilities; some of the sounds that lyrebirds have been recorded mimicking include mill whistles, saws, car engines and alarms, gunshots, camera shutters, barking dogs, crying babies, mobile ring-tones, fire alarms and even the human voice.


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