Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Near Threatened as although it is restricted to a small range and number of locations and the number of individuals is small, favourable management (including protection of the most important population) has meant that habitat quality and numbers are not thought to be declining. Regular monitoring of both species and habitat is needed to confirm the continuing effectiveness of this management.
Garnett and Crowley (2000).
This long-lived species is suspected to have undergone moderate declines owing to habitat loss over the past three generations (44 years), but following successful recent conservation measures the population is now suspected to have stabilised and is projected to remain stable.
Menura alberti is confined to a relatively small area of rainforest between Blackwall Range, New South Wales, and Mistake Range, Queensland, Australia. New South Wales is thought to support less than 800 pairs, with highest densities at Whian Whian State Conservation Area in Nightcap Range. Subpopulations are also found along Tweed, McPherson and Richmond Ranges. An isolated group of less than 10 birds persists in the Blackwall Range. In Queensland, the population may be of a similar size, although possibly smaller, and occurs patchily from Lamington National Park around Main Range to Mistake Range, with a small population on Tamborine Mountain. In optimal habitat, territories are widely spaced with a density of approximately five pairs/km2.
It lives in moist forest, mostly above 300 m with highest densities on poorer soils which develop a deep leaf-litter. It favours areas with Antarctic Beech Nothofagus moorei and wet sclerophyll forest with a dense understorey of rainforest plants, but is absent from some rainforest types, including complex notophyll vine forest on high nutrient soils and from dry sclerophyll forest. It feeds on terrestrial invertebrates. Low altitude forests are experiencing ongoing recovery through protection (or neglect) by landowners and local communities which could potentially become suitable for lyrebirds (H. Ford in litt. 2016). Courtship is elaborate, with the male dancing and mimicking the calls of other local bird species (
Much of the species's habitat was cleared in the 19th century. Until recently, the major threat was intense forest management, particularly in what was Whian Whian State Forest where proposals existed to allow replacement of optimal wet sclerophyll habitat with unsuitable Eucalyptus plantations. This area is now protected in the Whian Whian State Conservation Area (I. Gynther in litt. 2007). Previously disturbed areas may support a dense growth of lantana Lantana camara which reduces habitat suitability. Most subpopulations are now under relatively secure tenure, although the isolated populations at Blackwall Range and Tamborine Mountain are threatened simply because they are so small, and densities are unusually low near areas of closer settlement. Greater protection of suitable habitat on private land is occurring through the establishment of voluntary conservation agreements and this will help secure some subpopulations. Fire could be a threat in exceptionally dry years, especially to outlying subpopulations, although fire at intervals of several centuries is a natural feature of these environments. Nevertheless, the impacts of climate change on fire frequency and intensity, as well as on habitat quality in general, may need to be considered for the species in the future. It has been identified as a species with high vulnerability and low resistance to climate change due to poor dispersal abilities, microhabitat dependence and ground nesting behaviour (Hagger et al. 2012).
Conservation Actions Underway
A study of the habitat distribution and population density has been completed. Whian Whian State Forest, which was formerly threatened with conversion to Eucalyptus plantations, became protected as part of the Whian Whian State Conservation Area in July 2003. Voluntary conservation agreements on private land have given greater protection to suitable habitat (including Nature Refuge designation in Queensland), several state forests where the species occurs have been converted to national park status in Queensland, and a Border Ranges Rainforest Biodiversity Management Plan has been developed, encompassing the entire distribution of the species and identifying actions to enhance the quality and extent of habitat.
Male 90 cm including tail (50 cm), female 76 cm. Rufous-and-chestnut pheasant-like bird with long tail. Deep chestnut upperparts, rufous-buff throat, foreneck and undertail-coverts. Tail of male glossy black above and silver-grey below, used in elaborate displays. Tail of female and juvenile non-filamentous. Similar spp. Superb Lyrebird M. novaehollandiae is larger and has darker brown upperparts, 'guard-plumes' of tail are curved. Voice Male, far-carrying caw-cree-craw-craw-wheat or similar phrases. Both sexes mimic other species. Alarm call, piercing whisk-whisk.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Garnett, S., Mahood, S., Symes, A., Taylor, G.A., North, A.
Dutson, G., Ford, H., Burbidge, A., Gynther, I., Herman, K., Garnett, S., Woinarski, J., Baker, B.
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Menura alberti. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/06/2022.