About Us





The Sherbrooke Lyrebird Study Group was formed to protect and observe the Superb Lyrebirds in Sherbrooke Forest.

In the 1950s, it became known that the Forests Commission Victoria intended to increase the number of pine plantations in the Dandenong Ranges.   This information greatly concerned amateur ornithologist Ralph Kenyon who had spent much time studying the lyrebirds of Sherbrooke Forest.  He believed that the species would be adversely affected if the project went ahead.

With the assistance of Dr. Len Smith, then Director of National Parks and Miss Ina Watson of the Fisheries and Wildlife Department, Ralph Kenyon arranged a meeting with the Chairman of the Forests Commission requesting a delay in proceedings to allow a study of the lyrebirds and their habitat requirements.  The Forests Commission agreed to this proposal. 

Ralph Kenyon was then able to obtain community support which resulted in the formation of the Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group. The group attracted naturalists and concerned members of the public who feared the detrimental effects of increased pine plantations on the lyrebird population and habitat. They strongly lobbied against this. During this period the group realised that much better knowledge about the ecology of the species was vital in order to effectively conserve and protect lyrebirds.

In 1958 the group was formalised.  The group's constitution stated that their objective was "The elucidation of the life history and ecology of the lyrebird, with particular reference to their survival in Sherbrooke Forest Park, Victoria."  During the 1970s the name of the group was changed to Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group.  

The group began the annual mid-winter "Dawn Survey" in 1970.  Over three mornings, volunteers count the number of male birds calling at dawn and locate them using compass triangulation and careful recording of the time of calls. This method was adopted firstly by Ferntree Gully and Kinglake National Parks and is now being used in other parks where lyrebirds occur.  Papers have been published by SLSG members on mating, nesting and plumage.

By the 1980s the pressure on the fragile population from predation by foxes and wandering domestic animals led to many wildlife groups pushing for animal control laws and fox control programs.  

On  30th January 1986 the Member for Monbulk Neil Pope, introduced two members of the group to the Minister for Conservation Joan Kirner who arranged a meeting to discuss the predation issue, the Dandenong Ranges Management Plan and other matters relating to the group's survey work.   It was decided that Sherbrooke Forest Park was to be given National Park status to the benefit of both habitat and wildlife.   

A range of protective measures have since been developed in order to prevent predation of lyrebirds by foxes, feral animals and domestic pets. In 1988, the Shire of Sherbrooke, with the support of the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands, introduced a cat curfew in all areas around the forest. The Shire of Yarra Ranges continues to enforce this curfew and other bylaws that require ratepayers to properly control other pets as well as cats.   

Parks Victoria has implemented an active fox control program and the Friends of Sherbrooke Forest have assisted in the improvement of lyrebird habitat by removing invasive weeds. As a result of these and other measures, the lyrebird population has steadily increased and currently is stable at around 160 birds. While control measures are maintained, the population's growth will continue.

Today, modern technology is used in the form of DNA collection and GPS location but this does not lighten the enormous physical task of "on the ground" work done each day by the dedicated members of the group. Since 2000, approximately 25 chicks have been banded each year. Members assist research students with studies in disease, analysis of calls and diet. The group also assists park visitors with interests in photography, film, television and music incorporating the lyrebird's calls.

In October 2008, the Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group (SLSG) celebrated 50 continuous years of studying and working to protect the Lyrebird population in Sherbrooke Forest, part of the Dandenong Ranges National Park.  Once again the group's name has been changed, this time to Sherbrooke Lyrebird Study Group in order to encompass the range of environmental, research and community awareness activities undertaken by members of the group.  

During this fifty year period the group has increased knowledge and understanding of the lyrebird while also promoting awareness of the species and its habitat.  The group's membership has remained constant at an average of 12. Group members promote understanding and awareness of the lyrebird species by addressing community groups and leading guided walks for social and service clubs, environmental groups and walking clubs.
SLSG HISTORY:
AN OVERVIEW
1958
  • The Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group was formally constituted on Sept 11th with 11 foundation members. 
1970
  • Publication: Nesting of the Superb Lyrebird  by P Reilly, The Emu (Vol 70 Pt 2)
1971
  • Publications:  Polygamy Among Superb Lyrebird  by R Kenyon, The Emu (1971)
  • The Plumage Changes in the Superb Lyrebird  by D Moroney, The Emu (1971) 
1977
  • A major survey effort resulted in the updating of The Bird List for Sherbrooke Forest.
1980
  • Formation of Friends of Sherbrooke Forest volunteer group under leadership of Naturalist Marc Gottsch.
1984
  • SLSG assists ABC Natural History Unit in the creation of a film for 1988 Bicentennial which included segments about SLSG and the predation of lyrebirds.
1987
  • Dandenong Ranges National Park proclaimed.
1988
  • The Shire of Sherbrooke implements cat curfew. 
  • Fox eradication program commenced in Sherbrooke Forest.
  • Trapping of cats also implemented.
1993
  • Members interviewed by Radio National and HSV7's Talk to the Animals.
1994
  • Leaflet, The Superb Lyrebird, produced with help from Wildlife Watch.
1995
  • Dr David Morgan provides a report for Parks Victoria: Lyrebirds in the Dandenong Ranges.
  • G. Carmichael article (1994) in Australian Bird Watcher Vol 16 (2) June '95: A Comment on Smith.
1998
  • Paper by G. Carmichael - Nesting in Sherbrooke Forest Vol 17 June 1998.
2002
  • A Japanese film crew (TDK) spent four weeks in Sherbrooke Forest filming lyrebirds.
2005
  • Document Interactions with Lyrebirds Protocol  written, with special reference to visiting nests.
2006
  • Publication of biography Tom Tregellas, Pioneer Naturalist, by Esther Hardware, with the assistance of Bird Observers Club of Australia.
  • SLSG recognised by Parks Victoria for 25 or more years of service.  The group is one of the longest serving volunteer groups in the state.
2007
  • Transfer of observation data begun: from hard copy to a computerised database.
2008
  • Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Sherbrooke Lyrebird Study Group.
2010
  • For the first time a small number of chicks were banded in the corridors leading from Sherbrooke Forest.