Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lyrebird killed on Belmore Falls Road

Editors note: I generally do not photograph road kills - this is only the second case I can recall. But it is justified by the unusual features of this bird, which one seldom can see up close. So, it is recorded here, out of scientific interest. DJW

Can you believe it? A Lyrebird was killed by a vehicle on Belmore Falls Road today. This is a low-traffic, slow-speed (or ought to be) dirt road. And yet, somehow a male Lyrebird managed to be killed down there today. I have often seen Lyrebirds beside the road on the Macquarie Pass, but those birds seem to have remarkable road sense. They seem to feed right beside the road, being driven past by huge trucks, and cars and noisy motorbikes. But, the Belmore Falls road is far quieter. It is well known that Lyrebirds live down in the bush near Belmore Falls, (you hear them calling down in the valleys below), and there is always a lot of scratching marks near Hindmarsh Lookout, close to the edge of the cliff. But, strangely, this bird was found close to the farming country, in the drier Eucalypt scrub, well away from the wet forest country.

When I noticed the corpse lying beside the road, it had been stripped of its tail feathers, and one wing. A very strange souvenir, the wing, don't you think?

This bird was obviously a mature male, in full breeding plumage, with its bright russet throat. That explains why the tail feathers were absent when I found the corpse. You can see a photo of another male Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) here - on the COG website.This close-up shot shows the details of the leg and foot of the Lyrebird. It has a huge foot (for a bird). A Lyrebird is quite capable of picking up a rock roughly the size of a cricket ball, and removing it, in its search for worms and insects while seeking food on the forest floor. The foot is considerably larger and stronger than a chook's foot, but the bird is far lighter in weight than a chook.
You can read more about the Lyrebird at the Australian Museum's "Birds in Backyards" site, and even listen to its call, here.

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