Skip links and keyboard navigation

Albert's lyrebird

Common name: Albert’s lyrebird

Scientific name: Menura alberti

Family: Menuridae

Conservation status: Albert’s lyrebird is listed as Near Threatened in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and is ranked as a low priority under the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Back on Track species prioritisation framework.

Description

The Albert’s lyrebird is a ground-dwelling bird with the female reaching approximately 75 cm in length and males 90 cm. They are chestnut-brown in colour with a rufous undertail, rump and throat. When displaying, the male inverts and spreads its tail over the body and head. The two outer feathers of the male’s tail are black and broad right to their tips. Next to these are ten bushy filamentaries which are black above and silvery on the underside. In the centre of the tail are two long, slim ribbons which in display are often held well apart from the rest of the tail. The tail of the female is shorter, simpler, slightly drooping and lacks filamentaries.  

Habitat and distribution

The Albert's lyrebird is mostly confined to rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests with mesic understorey usually over 300 m above sea level.

The range of the Albert's lyrebird has contracted dramatically with records now restricted to the mountain ranges in the vicinity of far south-east Queensland and far north-east New South Wales.

In Queensland it is found from Tamborine Mountain to Lamington National Park, and from the McPherson Range west to Mount Barney National Park to near Kilarney. It is also found along the Great Dividing Range from Wilsons Peak to Cunningham’s Gap and Mount Mistake.

In New South Wales it is found along the McPherson and Tweed Ranges south to Koonyum, the Nightcap Ranges in the east and west to Boundary Creek. There is also an isolated population to the south in the Blackall Range.

Life history and behaviour

A timid bird, the Albert’s lyrebird is seldom seen but its call is spectacular and the presence of the birds is unmistakable during the winter months. During this time, males broadcast their remarkable vocal abilities in order to impress potential mates. The Albert's lyrebird mimics a large diversity of forest sounds including the calls of bowerbirds, whipbirds and rosellas.

Albert's lyrebird usually occurs singly or in pairs, rarely in groups of three. It is sedentary (does not disperse long distances), remaining in the same general area year-round. The breeding period occurs from April to September with display and mating commencing in May, followed by nest building. During June to August, one egg is laid in a domed nest, 2 to 5 m in trees, on rock escarpments or on steep sides of gullies (Higgins et al 2001). Females build a nest from sticks, roots and moss among fallen shrubs, vines or ferns. The egg is incubated by the female for 42 days.

Territories are estimated to be between 5 and 15 ha and are generally located in gullies, along watercourses and on slopes and ridges of steep mountain ranges (Higgins et al 2001). It feeds on the forest floor on small invertebrates such as snails, worms and insects.

Threatening processes

Threats to Albert's lyrebird include clearing and fragmentation of habitat, unsuitable forest management practices and predation by introduced predators such as the fox. The expansion of urban and rural development has forced this bird into rugged, isolated and sometimes inaccessible areas.

Additionally, the limited population size and physical isolation of the Albert's lyrebird at Tamborine Mountain and in the Blackwall Range in New South Wales may mean that these populations are unviable in the long term.

Recovery actions

An Albert's Lyrebird Project was developed to enhance available data by encouraging members of the community to submit sightings for entry to the Queensland Government’s WildNet database via email to wildnet@science.dsitia.qld.gov.au The Tamborine Mountain Natural History Association (TMNHA) carried out systematic counts of local Albert's lyrebird in 1993, 2001 and 2003.

WildNet provides quality information about Queensland's wildlife. This information underpins sound management decisions and is the key source of such information in the state.

What can you do to help this species

You can help this species by:

  • Recording sightings of lyrebirds and report the sighting to wildnet@science.dsitia.qld.gov.au 
  • Find out about Conservation Agreements
    • There are a number of types of conservation agreements available in south-east Queensland. These agreements play an important part in assisting EHP to conserve our unique natural assets.
    • The agreements range from the non-binding Land for Wildlife program (managed by local councils), through to binding agreements to conserve the land in perpetuity, such as the Nature Refuges Program managed by EHP.
    • All conservation agreements are written in conjunction with the landowner and are able to include the continuation of a variety of land uses. Conservation agreements also provide an excellent opportunity to gain technical advice about how to best manage your land for conservation.

Related information

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. 2012. Menura alberti Albert’s lyrebird: Species Profile and Threats Database. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra.

Garnett ST, Szabo JK and Duntson G. 2011. The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria.

Higgins PJ, Peter JM and Steele WK (eds). 2001. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 5: Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats. Melbourne, Victoria, Oxford University Press.

Last updated
24 January 2013