Captured by YouTuber Wen Hao Lee somewhere in Australia, this footage of a male lyrebird calling is one of the funniest, most fascinating things you'll see all day. (Edit: According to one of our readers, Phil Nelson, the video was shot at the Healsville Sanctuary lyrebird enclosure, just east of Melbourne in Victoria.)
Lyrebirds are pheasant-sized, ground-dwelling birds found only in Australia, and have been named for the males' incredibly beautiful, lyre-shaped tail plumes that are held high over their backs as a courtship display. They're split into two species - the superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae), which is found fairly commonly throughout the coastal forests of south-eastern Australia, and the shy and mysterious Albert's lyrebird (Menura alberti), a rare species that's been reduced to a population of around 3,500 breeding pairs in a tiny pocket of subtropical rainforest on the border of New South Wales and Queensland.
The male lyrebird's call plays a crucial role in his courtship behaviour, and while he'll call throughout the year, when the breeding season hits - between June and August every year - that's when he'll really ramp things up. During these few months, it's not uncommon for a male to spend six hours a day calling, which is plenty of time to really expand on and perfect his repertoire of sounds.
Lyrebirds have the most complex syrinx (the vocal organ in birds) of all the Passerines - a massive taxonomic order that contains half the world's species of birds. This gives it the most incredible capacity for mimicry, which it uses to show off to potential mates. Not only can lyrebirds perfectly mimic the sounds of other birds - both individuals and entire choruses of birds at the same time - but they can also mimic the sounds of other animals, such as koalas and dingoes. They're also likely to mimic any sound in their environment, and have been recorded mimicking car alarms, ringing phones, crying babies, chainsaws, camera shutters, rifle-shots, and now, laser guns. We're not quite sure how laser guns ended up in this one's environment, but we're pretty happy to just go with it.
Here's some iconic David Attenborough footage: