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Either of two species of insectivorous suboscine passerines (suborder Passeri) named for the shape of their extremely long tail when spread in courtship display. Lyrebirds are found in forests in southeastern Australia. They are ground dwellers with chickenlike bodies. About 40 in. (1 m) in total length, the male superb lyrebird is the longest of the passerines. He displays in a small clearing, bringing his tail forward so that the beautiful white plumes form a canopy over his head and the lyrelike feathers stand out to the side. In this position, while prancing in rhythm, he sings far-carrying melodious notes interspersed with perfect mimicry of other creatures and even of mechanical sounds.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on lyrebird, visit Britannica.com.