A photo taken at the height of the bushfire crisis in Wollombi, shows 11 lyrebirds, a usually solitary bird, congregated around a dam in a joint effort to protect themselves from the incoming fire.

With the ongoing bushfires ravaging Australia, acts of solidarity and community have often been a beacon of hope in a time of uncertainty and danger. Some of our favourite moments of community have been, not between people, but native animals. 

An image captured by PJ Wallis, shows 11 lyrebirds, a species that usually lives an extremely solitary and territorial life, gathered together around a shallow dam in an effort to save themselves from the fire, which Wallis says, was just 30 metres away. 

Photo by PJ Wallis

Ms Wallis told ABC News that at one stage there was closer to 20 of the unique birds standing around the dam. 

‘It was almost like they were protected in this little crater and I think that they knew that, they knew that that was the safest place to be because surely there aren’t that many lyrebirds just in that area,’ Wallis told the ABC. 

According to Alex Maisey, a PhD Candidate at La Trobe University who has observed lyrebirds for several years, birds have amazing spatial memory, and these lyrebirds may have seen this dam before and remembered where it is. 

‘In this instance, the males have potentially travelled kilometres to this dam to try and escape this fire, which is quite a remarkable thing,’ Maisey told ABC News. 

The sight was captured in Wollombi, on the edge of Yengo National Park, which was almost entirely burnt. 

Estimates from Birdlife Australia suggest that more than 50% of the habitat of lyrebirds in NSW has been impacted by the fires, destroying much of the lyrebird’s food sources along with it.

Feature photo by Dan Parkes