Open Thread – Chook the lyrebird

A belated posting. I wanted to embed video but apparently the corpse of Steve Jobs doesn’t want me to be able to do that either so, if you’d like to hear the clever birdy, you’ll need to go here or search for “chook the superb lyrebird” on the Googles.

29 December 2011: Adelaide Zoo’s much loved lyrebird Chook, known for his stunning vocal ability, has died at the age of 32.

Chook became a YouTube star after he was filmed imitating the sounds of construction work, which he probably picked up as the zoo’s panda enclosure was being built in 2009. …

Chook had been at the zoo for 20 years, arriving from the Healesville Sanctuary.

Adelaide Zoo’s Brett Backhouse was Chook’s keeper for 11 years and says 32 is a good age for a lyrebird. …

“He was hand raised so he was quite human habituated. That sort of gave him some special abilities as well. He was a lot braver with humans because he was so used to them. …

“It’s part of their courtship that they perform. Ones out in the wild in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland will mimic whatever they can find and they use it to attract a female and sort of show how clever they are,” Mr Backhouse said.

“We’re still getting used to the fact that the aviary’s very, very quiet.”

I wish I could imitate noises that well. I’d park myself outside Laura Bush’s bedroom window and make car accident noises.

Oh, and just in case you missed it, Mr Levenson has another Balloon Jobs thread going on down below the simultaneous Jesus posts.

39 replies
  1. 1
    Raven says:

    I don’t guess this is the NFL playoff thread?

  2. 2
    Hill Dweller says:

    The White House has formally come out against SOPA and PIPA.

  3. 3
    gogol's wife says:

    That is fantastic. Superb lyrebird, indeed. RIP Chook.

  4. 4
    Raven says:

    I never heard the use of “clever” so much until we started watching Masterpiece Theater.

  5. 5
    Jerzy Russian says:

    There was a story about Tim Tebow’s dating habits.

    As for the other ladies, Tebow told the national newspaper he is “too busy with football and life” for a girlfriend and “it’s hard.”

    When pressed for more information, Tebow changed the subject.

    One gets the impression from the quotes that Tebow is walking around with an erection, and that masturbation is out of the question.

  6. 6
    Amir Khalid says:

    I suspect that animals’ abilities — to learn things, to show qualities like intelligence and empathy and courage and even talent — are a surprise to those who don’t “humanize” them because they forget (or aren’t allowed to assume) that animals are persons just as much as humans are. That they need these qualities to survive and thrive just as we humans do. I mourn the passing of the talented and popular creature Chook.

    Some music news. The Hollywood Reporter says that Bruce Springsteen’s next album, recorded with the E Street Band’s survivors and due out this year, will address the theme of economic injustice; that it will be the “angriest” in tone of his career. There’s certainly much for the 99% to be angry about.

  7. 7
    Raven says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Well we’re living here in Allentown
    And they’re closing all the factories down
    Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time
    Filling out forms
    Standing in line
    Well our fathers fought the Second World War
    Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore

  8. 8
    burnspbesq says:

    This is not a typo. Do not adjust your monitor.

    Florida State 90, North Carolina 57.

    Why, yes, now that you mention it, it’s a very good day to be a Dookie.

  9. 9
    JPL says:

    That was not good for Saints fans..

  10. 10
    MikeJ says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    The White House has formally come out against SOPA and PIPA.

    Sold us out. Under the bus. Etc.

  11. 11
    some guy says:

    the Aints are getting spanked.

  12. 12
    Raven says:

    @efgoldman: And then some.

  13. 13
    Hill Dweller says:

    @burnspbesq: As I was saying after the UNLV loss, they’re a very overrated team.

    They’re soft in the post; Marshall is a great passer, but can’t shoot, get his shot, nor defend; Strickland is a SG that can’t shoot; Barnes’ added muscle has made him slower/less athletic; and they have a dearth of athleticism in the starting lineup. Quick, physical teams are going to beat them repeatedly this season.

  14. 14
    Raven says:

    @Hill Dweller: But Dickie V loves them baby. . .

  15. 15
    Raven says:

    @efgoldman: It’s from

    use their search function to find stuff. Who knew Custer was such a dog lover?

    eta The search function is a bit funky because it finds words in the comments.

  16. 16
    Amir Khalid says:


    Well, my daddy come on the Ohio Works
    When he came home from World War II
    Now the yard’s just scrap and rubble
    He says, “Those big boys did what Hitler couldn’t do… “

  17. 17
    Raven says:

    @Amir Khalid: I guess I’m thinkin “as angry”.

  18. 18
    burnspbesq says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    My nightmare: Duke trails Carolina by one with two seconds left, and Mason Plumlee is at the line, shooting two.

    Watching Stanford right now. Their PG, Chaisson Randle, who neither Duke nor Carolina could be bothered to recruit, is better than Marshall or Cook.

  19. 19
    S. cerevisiae says:

    @Amir Khalid: Bruce is a master at ripping down the 1% thru song, I’m hoping for a good car-blasting anthem for the summer.

  20. 20
    Raven says:

    @efgoldman: the detail is amazing

  21. 21
    Raven says:

    @S. cerevisiae:
    Now there’s trouble busin’ in from outta state
    And the D.A. can’t get no relief
    Gonna be a rumble out on the promenade and
    The gamblin’ commission’s hangin’ on by the skin of its teeth

  22. 22
    Raven says:

    @efgoldman: Aw man I’m really glad I posted it! The Proviso yards were just a few miles from where I lived and my old man grew up. He had a real affinity for the trains, I guess because of the proximity. He loved to tell me that “riding the rails” was riding on the undercarriage of the cars.

  23. 23
    Hill Dweller says:

    @burnspbesq: M. Plumlee is certainly a bad FT shooter, but I suspect Duke is, as a team, good free throws shooters, which mitigates the damage.

    UNC has Henson, who is every bit as bad as Plumlee at the line, in addition to a roster full of mediocre free throw shooters.

  24. 24
    Canuckistani Tom says:


    Somebody say streetcars?

    Always glad to meet another transit/rail nerd.

  25. 25

    American Zen‘s Mike Flannigan explains exactly why a Romney presidency would be pure disaster for America.

  26. 26
  27. 27
    Raven says:

    @Canuckistani Tom: This guys site is cool. He was in the same place as me in the Nam but it looks like trains is his main deal.
    Black Diamonds to Tidewater

  28. 28
    bawhahahahahahah says:

    I wish I could imitate noises that well. I’d park myself outside Laura Bush’s bedroom window and make car accident noises.

    pardon me while i clean the boogers that i blew out of my nose and the coca cola that i spewed from my mouth from the screen and keyboard, respectively.

    WOOT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. 29
    Yutsano says:

    At Uwajimaya with an old friend I haven’t seen in years. Kinda sucks she has to leave tomorrow.

  30. 30
    Canuckistani Tom says:


    here’s my own hobby/obsession


  31. 31
    Phylllis says:

    @efgoldman: That’s the case for many of the Charleston, SC photos, even from the late 1800’s. King, Broad, and Tradd streets haven’t changed much at all. Even with an earthquake and Hurricane Hugo.

  32. 32
    gaz says:

    @efgoldman: west coaster over here, but I’ve always wondered about mass transit future in my neck of the woods. Seattle. The trouble with Seattle, is it’s got so many hills, and the inlet to worry about, transportation projects tend to require massive earth moving equipment, and there’s also often no place to build “out”.

    They currently rely on a sort of mediocre Bus-Rapid-Transit – some parts are VERY good – particularly the commuter routs – which are subsidized by major employers…

    A lot of train nerds I know are really against BRT in general in favor of various solutions, often amounting to MOAR rails. But all in all I’ve not heard any really compelling reason that an enhanced BRT system wouldn’t be the easiest path to good public transit. I’m not against streetcars – in favor of in fact, esp on our waterfront – but in general, to get around the metro area (seattle/bellevue/suburbs) the bus system does okay, and arguably with more funds it seems like it could do much better.

    Any thoughts?

  33. 33
    Hal says:

    Was driving on the highway and past a pickup truck with nobama stickers on it. I find this fascinating because there’s no actual endorsed candidate, just someone who isn’t Obama. It reminds me of the anyone but Hillary campaign in NY when she first ran which ended up with the bland as paste Rick Lazio. I’m wondering if we will see the same thing this November.

    Somehow, Romney, at least he’s not Obama, doesn’t strike me as a great motivator to your political base.

  34. 34
    gaz says:

    @Hal: Heh. Yeah. Oops.

  35. 35
    gaz says:

    @Canuckistani Tom: I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts as well, on the reply I made to @efgoldman above.

    I ask in earnest. Locally it’s hard to get a good read – this has been at least a decade long battle, and the politics around it are toxic. It’d be refreshing and interesting, I think to hear an outside perspective from someone that might be in a position to argue for rail over enhanced BRT, for an urban region such as Seattle.

    So if you have any thoughts as well, I’d be delighted to hear them.

  36. 36
    peggy says:

    Too good not to share. From NYT comments on Charles Blow’s column on Romney envy.

    Jack Mahoney Maine
    I don’t envy Mitt–I emulate him. As soon as I can sell the car that’s up on blocks in the front yard and pay off the vet bills I ended up having to pay for my late sister’s cat I plan to take what’s left and invest in America.

  37. 37
    Canuckistani Tom says:


    OK. Generally I’m in favour of LRTs over BRTs

    I’ve noticed that BRTs are very susceptible to ‘death by a thousand cuts,’ and here’s why. To build an LRT line requires track, special vehicles, overhead wire with associated electrical infrastructure, etc.

    A proper BRT has independent lanes, smooth pavement, and usually larger buses.

    The problem is that if (OK, let’s be honest, when) construction costs rise, you can’t remove pieces from the LRT like the overhead wires. It’s an all or nothing situation. But you can remove pieces from a BRT and still have a functioning route, it just isn’t as good. It’s amazing how fast design features of a BRT can become an ‘unnecessary frill’ when the politicians get out the knives. Very soon, the BRT with it’s own lanes, stations and articulated or double-decker buses becomes a regular bus stuck in traffic that skips every other bus stop.

    Politicians may not like LRTs because it puts them in a difficult position when costs rise. No politician lost an election because they voted to replace BRT stations with bus shelters, but they will lose if they vote to scrap the LRT line that is half finished.

  38. 38
    gaz says:

    @Canuckistani Tom:

    A proper BRT has independent lanes, smooth pavement, and usually larger buses

    For the most part, all the major routes, and long distance routes have this.

    I think this is an interesting argument about the death by a thousand cuts. I’ve heard something like it before, but you expounded on it – past the little I’ve read.

    I also think that given the overactive constituency of the metro area – we tend to get buyers remorse a lot – eg: we put up money – hold 3 more local initiatives on it as the project is moving forward, and then back off, leaving things have finished – seattle metro tunnels seem something like that.

    One thing I think, (at least as it is implemented in our region) that’s nice about our BRT system is it uses electric lines in the city, – some of the larger mainline busses are pretty much electric 24/7 – though IIRC all can fallback to gas for better outage handling/failover

    Several of the buses (both none electric and electric ones) powered their more traditional ICE engines on alternative fuels or at least biofuels – which I think does a lot to help out the alternative fuel market (which itself is far from perfect, but something I think needs to continue).

    Who’s to say we wouldn’t get the same benefit from a rail system though – although as roadworthy alternatives for something like a city bus – I think these things are great.

    I’m a big fan of our sounder lite rail line though and think it should run from at least Vancouver BC (through other interconnecting rail operators – all the way down (more or less) the I5 corridor through at least southern cali. That’d be nice.

  39. 39
    gaz says:


    I really can’t comment on Seattle; never been there. Yutsano surely can make informed comments, if he’s around.

    I have plenty of seattleites to ask. The local politics of the whole mess are both long, and bloody. Was actually in favor of some $0.02 from outside this mess. =)

    Anyway – just an interesting topic for me – not a passion – especially since I don’t live there anymore – but nearby. But it’d be nice to hear some fresh perspectives from anyone that’s been interested in the subject themselves – but sans local BS – that after a decade or so does more to obscure the issue than anything, I think.

Comments are closed.