Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Yesterday, I was surveying lyrebirds up in the Brindabella Mountains behind Canberra. This was done by listening for and mapping singing males. I have been doing this since 2000, before the big fire which burnt out most of their habitat of leaflitter-rich ground cover beneath tall forest canopy. And as an aside I check a few places where I have known the birds to build their nests in the past. One such site is on rocks at the head of a gully, and I soon found a new nest from this year, set a few metres up on a cliff.

Their nests are large stick-built affairs about a metre in height and width, within which there is a tight spherical cavity lined with roots. And in the base of that the female lays her single egg in a bed of down and feathers.I expected to find an egg hidden in the down (the female was nowhere near the nest as they habitually leave eggs and young for long periods of the day) but was surprised to find a chick. In previous years I have found recently laid eggs at this date. So this was an early breeding attempt. 

The chick was lying quietly in the warm nest and would be easily overlooked by a predator. It was only as I looked closely that it raised its head and squawked at me with a very shrill call, which I am sure would deter many a predator to poke its head into the nest.

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