Birds in different regions have their own variations of calls

posted in: Owls, Vocalisation | 2

“On our recent trip to Taiwan, my bird guide and me were comparing the calls of my favourite ball of feathers, the Collared Owlet (Glaucidium brodiei). The Taiwanese Collared Owlet call was slower, and more mellow, while the one I have from Malaysia’s Fraser’s Hill was faster and sharper. So I tried using my Fraser’s Hill Collared Owlet call to see if I can get any reaction – absolutely no response, they just ignored it.

“So from this little experiment I guess that there are variations in calls for the same type of birds in different countries. Just like the Chinese diaspora, hokkien, cantonese, teochew, hakka, etc.”

KC Tsang
1st April 2013

Note: More on dialects in bird songs can be found in Gill, F. B., 2007. Ornithology. W. H. Freeman & Co., New York – p235-237.

2 Responses

  1. Lena

    The Taiwanese owlet is the endemic subspecies Glaucidium brodiei pardalotum. You can find samples of the slightly different calls at xeno-canto.

  2. Lee Chiu San

    It is well known among songbird fanciers that birds from different areas may develop different “dialects,” Speaking about shamas (Copsychus malabaricus) there are about 18 subspecies, and quite a number of them can be distinguished not only by body shape, but also by call. The more robust birds from Pahang and Johor tend to call using individual whistling notes. The slender birds from Langkawi and Penang call with a rolling song, the notes flowing into each other.

    This is also true of red whiskered bulbuls (Pycnonotus jocusus). Birds from Thailand and Malaysia have a higher-pitched and bubbly song. Those from India have deeper notes.

    And of course canary fanciers have developed, through selective breeding, distinct song types characteristic of different bloodlines. The song of a German Waterslager sounds like bubbling water. A Spanish Timbrado has a more strident call. But never forget that both birds are the same species, Serinus canarius, and will interbreed freely.

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