Lyrebirds in History

Written by Alex Maisey, age 12.

The Superb Lyrebird was discovered in 1788, ten years after the first fleet, by one of the first convicts, John Wilson. He had served his sentence, and went to live with aborigines. 
When Governor John Hunter was sorting out aboriginal and white men affairs, he heard that John Wilson had some knowledge of a pheasant-like bird living in the Great Divide. He had an interest in natural history, and sent a search party out to try to find one of these birds. The party was guided by John Wilson, and the literate John Price, who kept a diary of the journey. 

On the 29th of January, 1798, Price shot one of the birds. They had travelled about 340km. Wilson presented Governor Hunter with the specimen, and then two more on a second journey. Hunter was delighted with his skins. That second journey was 25 days long, and they travelled roughly 560km.

In the year 1800, a well-known ornithologist realised on inspection that the specimen was not a pheasant, but in fact an entirely new species. He described the bird in a paper delivered to the linnean society. It was published two years later.

It soon became fashionable for ladies to have lyrebird feathers in their hats. In 1896 two brothers employed men to shoot the birds.  Over the next few months, it is thought that up to 6000 birds were shot. The price was roughly 30 shillings per tail. 

Finally laws were made to protect the lyrebird - About Us/ SLSG History/ An Overview.