Chestnut-winged Babbler: Courtship ritual

posted in: Courtship-Mating | 3

The Chestnut-winged Babbler (Stachyris erythroptera) is an uncommon resident of the forest. The bird is nationally vulnerable due to its small, localised population.

KC Tsang reported seeing the male babbler in an unusual courtship ritual on 22nd April 2007. He observed that whenever the bird calls or sings, he displays “a white/bluish skin patch on both sides of the puffed up throat. Unlike that of the Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) that has two orange/yellow tuffs of feathers extended out from its shoulders in the mating dance.

“I am quite sure this kind of display by this bird had not been observed/recorded before…”

Yes, KC is right, this type of courtship ritual has not been reported or recorded for the Chestnut-winged Babbler.

*However, there is a paragraph in Birds of Borneo by Smythies, B. E. (1999), [Kota Kinabalu: Natural History Pub. (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd. & The Sabah Society. 4th ed, revised by G. W. H. Davison] on the Rail Babbler (Eupetes macrocerus) that states:

“In Sumatra KS Bishop observed one displaying in response to imitations of its voice. It approached to within 4m, hopped on to a fallen tree and after a few minutes turned head-on and slowly bowed, tipping its bill to the ground whilst at the same time broadly expanding its chest to exhibit an almost iridescent halo of brilliant blue and deep chestnut-red. This continued for several seconds with the bird slowly bowing and expanding its breast, then raising its head once again, before it scuttled away (KD Bishop, in litt.).”

It is gratifying to see that birders are now paying more attention to bird behaviour than before.

KC Tsang
May 2007

*PS (020607): Our field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng has just pointed out to me that there is a note in Smythies’ book (page 512) on the blue patches for Chestnut-winged Babbler.

3 Responses

  1. Dwi

    Hi all,
    Sorry out of topic…but I’m wondering what’s the different between ‘ritual’ and ‘display’? eg. courtship ritual and courtship display.
    could anyone help me? post me a message by e-mail will be welcome..

    dwi_mulya at

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