Bird Perfectly Replicates Human Baby's Cry in Video Viewed Over 720K Times

A remarkable clip shows a lyrebird, located in Australia's Taronga Zoo, mimicking the sounds of a crying baby—and viewers are shocked.

The video, which can be viewed here, has been watched 721,400 times on Twitter, racking up almost 4,000 retweets and over 7,000 likes in the process.

Found in southeastern Australia, lyrebirds are known for their mimicking abilities. The ground-dwelling birds, whose bodies are similar to those of chickens, are named after the shape of the males' large tail feathers, reported Britannica. When searching for a mate, male lyrebirds will "display" in a forest clearing, showing off his feathers, singing complex songs, and mimicking the sounds of other creatures.

In fact, the birds are such good mimics that they are able to replicate mechanical sounds with perfect accuracy. In one famous BBC clip, nature historian Sir David Attenborough highlights the birds' unique abilities—including mimicking the sounds of camera shutters, car sirens, and chainsaws. "What bird has the most elaborate, the most complex, the most beautiful song in the world? I'd guess there [are] lots of contenders, but this bird must be one of them," Attenborough said in the video.

In the recent footage shared by Sydney's Taronga Zoo, a seven-year-old lyrebird known as Echo shows off his incredible vocal range. The clip features Echo perched high on a branch in a zoo enclosure, producing a wailing sound indistinguishable from a real human baby's cries.

Several viewers called the video "scary" and "chilling," while others described it as "hilarious" and "amazing." Many more were simply shocked that the noises featured in the clip actually came from a bird.

Leanne Golebiowski, Taronga Zoo's unit supervisor of birds, explained to the Guardian that they're not exactly sure how Echo learned to cry with such accuracy—especially since Sydney is under lockdown, as required by current COVID-19 restrictions.

"I can only assume that he picked it up from our guests. Obviously he has been working on his craft during lockdown," said Golebiowski. "But this concerns me, as I thought the zoo was a happy place for families to visit!"

Taronga Zoo
Echo the lyrebird is located at Sydney, Australia's Taronga Zoo, pictured above. Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

"There are two other sounds that he makes at the moment which he has newly learned," she added. "One is the sound of a power drill which is scarily accurate—the second is our fire alarm. He even has the 'evacuate now' announcement down pat."

Golebiowski added, in a statement to Newsweek, that when she first heard Echo's humanlike wail, the experience was "terrifying."

"I was confused, as the zoo was closed and hearing a [cry] seriously panicked me," she added. "I was trying to find where it was coming from and if they were okay! It wasn't until Echo started another call I looked up and [realized] it was him. A big sigh of relief after I [realized] it wasn't a real human baby crying."

According to Dr. Alex Maisey of La Trobe University, as per the Guardian, it is uncommon for lyrebirds to mimic human noises—making Echo's cry somewhat of an anomaly.

Lyrebirds maintain a roster of sounds they are able to mimic. They use these noises for breeding season and to pass them down to younger generations of birds.

Male lyrebirds, however, sometimes use their remarkable abilities for devious purposes. According to research published earlier this year, male lyrebirds will often replicate the sounds of a predatory flock while mating with a female. While the exact reasoning behind this practice remains unknown, scientists suspect that creating the sounds of predators will trick the female into thinking danger is nearby—and as a result, the female will be prompted to stay with the male for a longer period of time.