Lesser Shortwing at Fraser’s Hill, Peninsular Malaysia

on 15th April 2008

The Lesser Shortwing (Brachypteryx leucophrys) is a bird that not many birders have the opportunity to see. More often than not, it is heard than seen. And once heard, its rich and melodious song remains with you.

But even after hearing its vocalisation, it is extremely difficult to locate the bird. It lurks on or near the ground, alone or in a pair. And mostly, it remains within the tangle of vegetation in the forest understorey, or at the forest edge hidden among the thicket.


Yet, KC Tsang managed to photograph both the male and the female in Peninsular Malaysia’s Fraser’s Hill. He did not encounter both sexes on the same visit. In July 2006 he managed to see and photograph a female bird when it emerged from hiding to take a bath in a forest stream (above). As for the male, he only got his shot two years later, in March 2008 (below).


The Lesser Shortwing is mostly a montane forest bird, found generally at an altitude of 1,500 and 2,100 metres. According to Wells (2007), it’s “advertising-song is surprisingly loud and intense: two deliberate, well-separated notes, who, hee, followed immediately by a sweet but explosive jingle lasting about a second, too fast to unravel by ear (slightly slower on the E-coast Range), but with sharply up-and-down notation and some doubling of sounds.” Its alarm call “is a 3-6 repetitions of a low but sharp monosyllable, tuk or tak, answered with a fine, thin see or whee.

Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

One Response

  1. I was interested in your article on the Lesser shortwing and also the Glossy swiftlets at Frasers hill.
    I have visited the area a number of times over the last twenty years and on one occasion had the good fortune to find the nest and eggs of the Lesser shortwing .I have also known the swit roost for many years.
    You can verify my credentials with my friend Mr. Dure.
    Regards .
    Terry Langworthy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)