In the cool, damp forests of the Werrikimbe region in New South Wales, the local Superb Lyrebirds have an extraordinary accent and are sometimes referred to as ‘flute lyrebirds’. The whistle song of birds in parts of this region is a complex, melodic phrase which sounds like a scale played on a flute. In winter when male lyrebirds are in full song, these unique melodies float through the cool misty air of the high altitude rainforests of Werrikimbe creating a magical atmosphere.
An interesting story is connected with the ‘flute lyrebirds’ – it suggests these unique songs are actually a result of a captive bird in the 1920’s learning to mimic the sounds of the household’s flute player. A team of researchers (Vicki Powys, Hollis Taylor & Carol Probets) has extensively investigated the story and the songs of ‘flute lyrebirds’ in the region and you can read their conclusions in this paper. It seems the jury is still out on whether these songs are a remarkable local accent, or the result of mimicry as explained in the flute lyrebird story.