It takes superb lyrebirds seven years to grow their tail feathers
This ground-dwelling Australian impersonator puts on a truly show-stopping display when it comes to wooing the ladies
Native to the rainforests of southeastern Australia, the male superb lyrebird has a delicate tail of feathers that certainly makes up for its lack of colour.
Superb lyrebirds are shy, pheasant-like birds and spend their lives mostly on the ground. Their long, strong legs are perfect for digging for worms and insects such as beetles and cockroaches on the forest floor and for escaping danger. They also have an intriguing ability to mimic a wide range of sounds, including the calls, songs and wing beats of other species.
Superb lyrebirds are named after the male’s lacy, white plumes and outer pair of curved tail feathers, which form the shape of a lyre – a harp-like instrument from ancient Greece. Their train consists of 16 feathers, which are up to 70 centimetres (27.6 inches) in length and take up to seven years to grow.
During breeding season males perform courtship displays, flipping up their lacy tail feathers and fanning them out over their head while vibrating them in an attempt to draw the gaze of a female.