Female Superb Lyrebird

David Sumner

Wheelers Hill, Australia

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Artist's Description

The Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) is a pheasant-sized songbird, approximately 100cm long, with brown upper body plumage, grayish-brown below, rounded wings and strong legs. It is the longest and third heaviest of all songbirds.

The polygamous male is the bearer of the most elegant of all tails. The tail has sixteen feathers, with the two outermost being lyre-shaped. Next within are two guard plumes and twelve long, lace-like feathers, known as filamentaries. Seven years is required for the tail to fully develop. During courtship display, the tail is fanned forward beyond his head to form a silvery white canopy.

One of the two lyrebirds in the family Menuridae, the other being the much rarer Albert’s Lyrebird, the Superb Lyrebird has a wide vocal range and extraordinary ability to accurately mimic sounds. The female lays a single egg and builds a domed nest above ground.

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