The lyrebird: nature’s finest sound mimic

Why Evolution Is True

The superb lyrebird of Australia (Menura novaehollandiae) is perhaps the best vocal mimic in the world, and by “vocal mimic” I don’t mean having the ability to mimic voices, but having the ability to mimic diverse sounds with its voice.

In one of the first posts that appeared on this site in 2009 (only 4 comments!), I showed a video of a lyrebird apparently mimicking a chainsaw, a camera, and a car alarm.  That video is no longer at the original site, but it’s been put on YouTube again, and is just below. Naturally, it’s from an Attenborough show: the “Life of Birds” series.

Amazing, no?

This video has been cited widely, even by National Geographic, but it may not be all it’s cracked up to be. In an article at The Conversation, Hollis Taylor, a postdoc at the University of Technology in Sydney, first explains the birds’ mimicy in the wild:

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