Albert's lyrebird (Menura alberti)

GenusMenura (1)
SizeMale length: 90 cm (2)
Female length: 76 cm (2)
Top facts

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

Lyrebirds are well known for the male’s impressive courtship display, in which he shows off his magnificent tail. Albert’s lyrebirds have deep chestnut upperparts, with a reddish-buff throat and foreneck (2). Males have an extremely long tail that can reach 50 cm, and is glossy black above and silvery-grey below (2). Lyrebirds are astonishing mimics, giving calls that sound like other rainforest animals and even man-made cars and chainsaws (4).

Endemic to Australia, Albert’s lyrebird is now restricted to mountainous areas between the Nightcap Range in northeast New South Wales and the Mistake Range, southeast Queensland (3).

These rainforest birds are found in forests above 300 metres, where there is a dense understory; they are particularly associated with Antarctic beech (Nothofagus moorei) (2).

Male lyrebirds take part in complex displays in order to attract a mate; these take place on platforms constructed from trampled vegetation on the forest floor (4). Whilst giving a range of calls, the male fans his striking tail and arches it over his back (3). Displays take place between May and August. After mating the female constructs a domed nest of sticks, into which she lays a single egg, which she then incubates alone (4).

Using their strong feet and claws, lyrebirds unearth invertebrates, such as spiders and insects on the forest floor (4). These unusual birds have weakly developed wings and rarely fly, even if disturbed (4).

This area of eastern Australia was witness to much deforestation in the 19th century. Today the major threats to the survival of Albert’s lyrebird come from forest management practices, such as proposed Eucalyptus plantations (2). Albert’s lyrebird is a rainforest specialist, which appears unable to disperse between areas of unsuitable habitat. The resulting isolated subpopulations are at risk from disease or natural disasters, such as the fires that periodically sweep through the region (3).

Population studies have been carried our in order to assess the precise risk to this species (2). The protection of the limited viable habitat that remains will be vital in securing the survival of this intriguing bird. The lyrebird is the emblem of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (4).

BirdLife International’s World Bird Database

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2009)
  2. BirdLife International (August, 2003)
  3. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (August, 2003)
  4. University of Queensland (August, 2003)