On almost every Wildlife Journey we see Superb Lyrebirds, and they are walking on the ground.
They are large birds, heavy-looking, with a huge tail. In fact everything about them is large – body, tail, feet, eyes – even their famous voice is larger-than-life. Listen to this magnificent recording by Wild Ambience:
A bird so large seems better to stay on the ground.
So it comes as a surprise the first time you see them fly.
My first Lyrebird in flight was in East Gippsland many years ago. It was late afternoon, and we were preparing for dinner. Two Superb Lyrebirds were making a lot of noise, crashing around in the bush. As we watched they jumped/flew to low branches, then jumped/flew again to the next highest branch, and so on all the way to near the top of a 10metre Southern Mahogany tree.
It is quite funny to watch. With each jump they spread their wings, sometimes flapping a few times. The effort required seems negated by the small gain, but who am I to judge – I can’t fly at all!
The only small anatomical feature on a Superb Lyrebird is the wing.
The wings are rounded and short, shaped more like a parachute than a high-performance elevating structure. That gives a clue to their purpose – while lyrebirds will climb to heights to roost at night, they descend quickly the next morning in one short glide.
The best time to see Superb Lyrebirds is spring – September, October, November – though we can see them at other times of year on our Wildlife Journey.