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Wooing Your Mate with a Chain Saw

The lyrebird’s amazing show-off repertoire

By Eric Porter

Be who you want to be! Or at least be anyone you think your mate would be impressed by. The lyrebird can impersonate any other bird on the planet – not to mention a camera, a car alarm or anything else that he thinks the ladies might have been listen in or around the forest.

Anything they can do he can do better. Check it out with David Attenborough in the Australian bush.

As well as their extraordinary mimicking ability, lyrebirds are notable because of the striking beauty of the male bird’s huge tail when it is fanned out in display; and also because of their courtship display.

One famous anecdote about lyrebirds describes the relationship between a male lyrebird, known as James, who became attached to a certain Mrs. Wilkinson after she’d been offering him food. James would do a courtship dance for her in her backyard, and for any of her friends, as long as she was there, too. A typical dance could last more than half an hour and included extemporaneous tunes that might include perfect imitations of other kinds of birds – including, for example, two Kookaburras laughing in unison, a flock of parrots whistling in flight, along with a jack-hammer, a chainsaw and the tooting of car horns.