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Superb Lyrebird

Our male Superb Lyrebird, "Chook".

  • The lyrebird gets its name from the male’s tail which has sixteen feathers, the two outermost being shaped like the musical instrument the lyre.
  • Male lyrebirds mate with multiple females and are not involved in raising the young. Female lyrebirds build their nests (which are usually quite messy!) in low trees or even on the ground and lay a single egg which they incubate for approximately 50 days.
  • Lyrebirds have short and weak wings and so cannot fly very well. However their wings allow them to jump onto tree branches or rocks and then glide back down to the forest floor.
  • Lyrebirds are ancient Australian animals. Lyrebird fossils dating back 15 million years ago are held at the Australian Museum.
  • The Lyrebird’s beautiful courtship display is immortalised on the Australian 10 cent coin.


Superb Lyrebird

Geographical Region: Australasia

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An Adelaide Impersonator FoundGlobal Fame

Chook the Superb Lyrebird became an internet sensation through a Youtube clip, where he showed off his extraordinary mimicry skills. Since finding fame on the internet Chook featured on a series of news stories around the world and met with several television personalities including Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. Sadly chook passed away in late 2011 after nearly 20 years at the zoo. The zoo family and visitors greatly miss his amazing repertoire of calls and mimics.


You can view the popular clip here.

Our Lyrebirds

We have three lyrebirds at Adelaide Zoo. Our two females, Rufous and Correnderk are housed together and our world-famous male, Chook lives in his own exhibit with several other bird species.

Chook (born 1979) hatched in the wild but was hand raised at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria. He came to Adelaide Zoo in 1991.

About 80% of Chook’s song consists of expert mimicry, emulating many of the sounds in his immediate surroundings. Like all wild lyrebirds Chook can imitate the sounds of many other bird species but he has also learnt to imitate some more unique sounds during his time at the zoo.

A male lyrebird sings to defend his territory and to attract a mate. During winter he stages an elaborate courtship display where he sings a complex song consisting of his own sounds and the many sounds he has learnt to imitate. In addition he performs a dance, shaking his tail which forms a silvery white canopy over his lowered body. This performance is often carried out on-top of a mound that he has built from leaf-litter and soil.

Here is a list of some of the sounds Chook makes.

Bird sounds
Laughing Kookaburra
Regent honeyeater
Yellow tailed black cockatoo
Flock of rainbow lorikeets
Eastern whipbird
King Parrot
Marpie Lark
Australian Magpie
Noisy Miner
Red Wattlebird
Pied Currawong
Bush Stone-Curlew

Other sounds
Electric drill
“Hello Chook”
Water drops
Truck reversing
Post-mix drink being poured
2 way radio chatter

Quick Stats

Length: Males are between 80-100cm in length and females are between 74-84cm in length.

Weight: Average weight is 957g. This is approximately the same weight as one and a half loaves of bread.

Diet: Carnivore: Insectivore

Habitat:South-eastern Australian mainland and southern Tasmania; prefers moist forests.

Status: Least Concern

Threats and Conservation

Superb Lyrebirds are under threat from introduced species such as cats, dogs and foxes. 

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Page Last Updated April 11, 2014, 1:54 am