lyrebird


lyrebird
/luyeur"berrd'/, n.
an Australian passerine bird of the genus Menura, the male of which has a long tail that is lyrate when spread.
[1825-35; LYRE + BIRD]

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Either of two species of insectivorous suboscine passerines (family Menuridae) named for the shape of their extremely long tail when spread in courtship display.

Found in forests in southeastern Australia, lyrebirds are ground dwellers with chickenlike bodies. About 40 in. (1 m) in total length, the male superb lyrebird is the longest of the passerines. He displays in a small clearing, bringing his tail forward so that the beautiful white plumes form a canopy over his head and the lyrelike feathers stand out to the side. In this position, while prancing in rhythm, he sings far-carrying melodious notes interspersed with perfect mimicry of other creatures and even of mechanical sounds.

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bird
      either of two species of Australian birds (family Menuridae, order Passeriformes) named for the shape of their tail when spread in courtship display. The name also aptly suggests a musician. Inhabiting forests of southeastern Australia, lyrebirds are ground dwellers, and their brown bodies rather resemble those of chickens. In the so-called superb lyrebird (Menura superba, or M. novaehollandiae of many authors), the male's tail consists of eight pairs of ornate feathers, which resemble a lyre when erect. There are six pairs of filmy, whitish feathers; one pair of 60–75 centimetre (24–30 inch) feathers that forms the arms of the “lyre” are broad and curled at the tip and are silvery on one side and marked with golden-brown crescents on the other. There are also two equally long “wires,” narrow, stiff, slightly curved feathers that correspond to a lyre's strings; they are situated in the centre of the curved “arms.” With a total length of about one metre (39 inches), the male lyrebird is the longest of passerine birds.

      When the male displays in small clearings, which he makes at several places in the forest, he brings his tail forward so that the white plumes form a canopy over his head and the lyrelike feathers stand out to the side. In this position he sings, while prancing in rhythm, far-carrying melodious notes interspersed with perfect mimicry of other creatures and even of mechanical sounds. Its breeding season is rainy winter, when insect food is abundant. Its nest is a large mound of sticks, usually on the ground, that contains a spacious chamber for the single egg. Nest building and incubation are done by the female, which resembles the male except in tail development.

      Albert's lyrebird (M. alberti) is a much less showy bird than the superb lyrebird, but an equally good mimic. It is rarely seen because its range is restricted to deep rain forest.

      Lyrebirds were formerly thought to be related to pheasants or to the birds-of-paradise. With the scrub-birds (Atrichornithidae) the lyrebirds now occupy a suborder, Menurae, distinct from all other passerine birds.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • lyrebird — [līr′bʉrd΄] n. any of a family (Menuridae) of Australian passerine birds: the long tail feathers of the male resemble a lyre when spread …   English World dictionary

  • Lyrebird — Lyrebirds Superb Lyrebird Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia …   Wikipedia

  • lyrebird — /ˈlaɪəbɜd / (say luyuhberd) noun either of two ground dwelling birds of south eastern Australia constituting the family Menuridae, the superb lyrebird, Menura novaehollandiae, and Albert s lyrebird, M. alberti, noted for their fine loud voices,… …   Australian English dictionary

  • lyrebird — noun Either of two large ground dwelling Australian songbirds, of the genus Menura, so named because of the beautiful tail feathers of one species, the Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) which can be erected to look like a lyre;they are… …   Wiktionary

  • lyrebird — noun a large Australian songbird, the male of which has a long lyre shaped tail. [Genus Menura: Menura novaehollandiae (superb lyrebird) and M. alberti.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • lyrebird — lyrauodegiai statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Menura angl. lyrebird vok. Leierschwanz, m rus. лирохвост, m; птица лира, f pranc. ménure, m; oiseau lyre, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – lyrauodeginiai siauresnis terminas –… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • lyrebird — noun Date: 1834 either of two Australian passerine birds (genus Menura) distinguished in the male by very long tail feathers displayed in the shape of a lyre during courtship …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • lyrebird — noun (C) a bird with a long U shaped tail, that lives in Australia …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • lyrebird — lyre•bird [[t]ˈlaɪərˌbɜrd[/t]] n. orn either of two large passerine birds of the genus Menura, of E Australia, the males of which have long tails that are lyrate when spread • Etymology: 1825–35 …   From formal English to slang

  • lyrebird — noun Australian bird that resembles a pheasant; the courting male displays long tail feathers in a lyre shape • Hypernyms: ↑passerine, ↑passeriform bird • Member Holonyms: ↑Menura, ↑genus Menura …   Useful english dictionary


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