How our Lyrebird Count Operates

The Annual Lyrebird Survey at Tarra-Bulga National Park has been carried out for the last 20 years as a means of detecting any changes of the population of the birds, within an area of the park covering from around the visitors centre area to the rainforest gully at the headwaters of Macks Ck. Although Lyrebirds are not considered endangered, they are at risk from natural disasters such as bushfires, habitat decline and attack from foxes, feral animals and domestic cats and dogs. The annual survey contributes to long term data on the density of the local population and helps park management plan their future management actions.

Superb Lyrebird
Superb Lyrebird calling from a tree branch.

The Lyrebirds are counted not by attempting to spot them visually, but by listening out for their song. (Sometimes you may be lucky enough to see a bird but often they are out of sight perched in a tree canopy or in ferny understorey). The survey is undertaken during the Lyrebirds’ breeding season. At this time mature male Lyrebirds are all actively searching for females to mate with and it is during this time when they are reliably singing for much of the day. The survey is consistently undertaken at dawn (when the wind is often calmer and the Lyrebirds begin their morning calls, usually while perched up in a tree).

The count is carried out by distributing groups of volunteers across the survey area at

Pre Count Briefing
Volunteers gathering before the count.

established monitoring points. Each of these points is marked with a numbered sign so that they can be found in the pre-dawn light. As the sun rises and the Lyrebirds start singing their varied repertoire, the volunteers use a compass to establish the direction the calls are coming from and estimate the distance (close, medium or far) that the call is coming from. The survey lasts for approximately 30 minutes, after which the volunteers generally go off and enjoy breakfast at the aptly named Lyrebird Cafe.

Once the survey is completed survey sheets are collected and the direction the calls were coming from are plotted as lines onto a map, where lines coming from several surrounding monitoring points meet, we can be confident that it is a location where a male Lyrebird was calling from.

Lyrebird count 2015 results
Volunteers gathering before the count.
Lyrebird count compass bearings
Instructions on how to use a compass to find the direction the Lyrebird is calling from. 

 

2012 Lyrebird Count

We were happy to have perfect weather for Lyrebird Counting, still calm conditions meant that Lyrebird calls would be easy to detect. We had an excellent turnout with 32 helpers including a contingent of Scouts. Ranger Craig briefed the early morning crowd about their roles and passed on his knowledge in terms of taking a compass bearing. We then raced out to our monitoring points, in order to be in position before the first birds began calling at the break of dawn. After only a quarter of an hour or so all groups recorded several different birds calling and there were a number of live sightings. It was then (as is the custom) time to migrate to the guesthouse for a hearty breakfast. After all the recordings were logged and mapped we can confirm at least 6 birds were present in the target area, which thankfully shows that the Parks Lyrebird populations are still going strong.

Pre Count Briefing
Everyone paying attention to the instructions before going out to their positions.
Two young helpers ready to start the Lyrebird Survey
Two young helpers ready to start the Lyrebird Survey
Lyrebird Surveyors Breakfast
Lyrebird Surveyors Breakfast