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Bird Watching Stories
(Go Back to Wild Bird Page Contents)
» No Barbeque this Summer 
» Barn Swallow "Mama"  
» Just How Does a Bird Eat Bees?  
» My Birdwatching Adventures in Costa Rica
  » Just Another Golden Eagle 
 » Four Birds in One Tree: 
A Few Days of Birdwatching in England
» Four Calling Birds??? 
» A Very Unique Cardinal 
» Narcissism or Territorial
Defense: Macho Cardinal
» The Last Companion Carolina Paroquet 
 » The Ever-Popular Chickadee 
» Convergent Evolution: Meadowlark and Longclaw 
» Barrel Cactus Confrontation 
 » Galahs Playing Around and Around and Around ... 
 » Who Made Up This Stuff?
Bird Call Mnemonics
» Mesmerizing a Goldfinch 
» The Best Mimic?  
» Prairie Chickens and Woodcocks:
Missouri Ornithology
» Mob Mentality: Who is Really in Control of the Skies?
» The Owl Who Sat Down Beside Me 
» Meeting Hot Shot: The Toddler Peregrine Falcon  
 » Seeing 'Sea Parrots'
in Alaska
 » A Rare and Unusual Bird 
Meeting Roger Tory Peterson
» Raven Showoffs 
» Reddish Egrets a nd Canopy Feeding 
 »  Robins and Worms 
Hear, See, Smell, or Feel?
» Hospital Hallucinations 
 » What Are You Doing Here? Scissortail Flycatcher
» Wild Bird "Attacks": Just Misunderstandings? 
» Drunken Waxwings and an Unusual Hummingbird Feeder
»  Aransas in the Fog:
Whooping Cranes
 » Acorn Woodpecker Defending its Stash
» Why Woodpeckers Don't Get Headaches: Built in Shock Absorber 


Is the African Grey Parrot really the best bird mimic ... how about the Yellow-naped Amazon ... or maybe the Mynah Bird? Is it the mockingbird or how about the catbird? 

By Sally Blanchard

According to many bird experts, the answer is none of the above.

In fact, the best bird mimic is considered to be the Australian Lyre Bird (Menura novaehollandiae). This almost nondescript brown bird lives in the forests of south eastern Australia and stays close to the ground rarely flying. He makes his own clearing as a stage for his seduction performance. This is where he displays his superb tail that looks like a lyre as the male spreads and shakes it during his courtship dance. But it is not this spread tail that attracts the most hens; it is the Lyre Birds almost endless repertoire of whistles, calls, and imitations of his habitat. The male has been heard doing the calls of twenty other species within his range ... including those of the black and gang-gang cockatoos. He does such a good impression of a Kookaburra that those birds will return his calls.

In The Lore of the Lyre Bird by Ambrose Pratt (1938), the author writes about a semi-tame Lyre Bird who chatted, sang, whistled, and called for visitors for close to three-quarters of an hour. Then he danced for awhile singing his special dance music. The Lyre Bird does not simply do exact imitations of other bird songs, but he also mimics all of the sounds within his habitat. This includes the human voices he hears, dogs barking, mechanical rock crushers and other construction sounds, and, more recently, the sounds of camera shutters. Evidently some of the noises these romantic birds make are not particularly enjoyable to the human ear. 

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