Call of the White-breasted Waterhen

posted in: Videography, Vocalisation | 3

Lena Chow recorded a video clip of a White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus ) in March 2011 “…making its usual loud, repetitive croaky call to another bird (or two) in the low bushes this evening. The ruak-ruak calls taper off at the end into a seldom heard (at least to me) coo-ing, and I can’t seem to find any description of dove-like coo-ing in a quick check of online literature. Perhaps this has something to do with calling out the other bird in hiding?”

Lena Chow
Singapore
March 2011

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3 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    I have a pair of waterhens resident in my garden. They come for food every morning, and I can confirm that they do have a wider range of vocalisations than the ruak-ruak recorded in the literature. The ruak-ruak call seems to be triggered by aggression. When they are calling to each other, the notes are more varied, and include the cooing sound.

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  2. The Chinese name of the White-breasted Waterhen is 苦恶鸟 (kǔ-è bird). I think the 苦恶 (kǔ-è) part reflects the cooing sound. If you listen to the cooing, it sounds like coo-er coo-er.

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  3. Sun Chong Hong

    Hi Greg,

    The word 恶 is also pronounced as wu4 (in Han Yu Pin Yin). Whether it sounded like “ku-e” or “ku-wu” depended on how one heard the call. One Chinese web-site described the sound as “ku-u” (http://www.newsmth.net/bbsanc.php?path=%2Fgroups%2Fsci.faq%2FWildLife%2Fflx%2Fbird1%2FM.1101807323.V0) while another one had it as “kue” (http://www.cngba.com/thread-17110653-1-1.html).

    I have listened to all the sound samples of white-breasted waterhen in http://www.xeno-canto.org/asia but didn’t hear any ku-e or ku-wu, I only heard 苦哇 (ku-wa). By the way this bird is called 苦哇鸟 by the Northern Chinese.

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