An analysis of the Short-tailed Babbler’s call

posted in: Videography, Vocalisation | 2

Jeremiah Loei’s recording of the Short-tailed Babbler (Malacocincla malaccensis) is one great solo rendition of this babbler’s song. The song, recorded at Singapore’s Venus Drive in late August 2013, lasted a total of 4 min. 16 sec.

The song has been described by Robson (2008, p514) as “…a series of 6-7 loud rich whistled notes, descending in pitch, introduced by a dry trill: pi’pi’pi’pi’pi pew pew pew pew pew pew. Calls with low, harsh, crackling, rattling sounds and a harsh, mechanical chutututututututututut… interspersed with soft yer notes, etc.”

Wells’ (2007, p366) interpretation is as follows: “…the full song … comprises a short, varied warble running directly into a trilling twitter (described as canary like) then to an even sequence of 5-6 loud, individually down-turning whistles and deliberate terminal cadence … tii-u, tii-u, tii-u, tii-u, tii-u, tii-u, tew tew tew tew tew tew. The tii-u sequence lasts about four seconds, the whole song about ten, and in early mornings it tends to be repeated in long bouts. At other times of day only fragments of the song may be given.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS undertook a sound analysis of one call section (HERE) and provided the sonogram below using the Audacity software that gives a graphical representation of waveforms in the y-axis representing the amplitude of the sound].

“…the first part of the call is more like a chip, chip, chip rather than a pi pi” recounted Amar. “Actually there are three parts to the call, see image above, of one call section and audio extraction. [The call] starts with a chip, chip … then gets larger to a pchiew, ptchiew … and ends with the tii-u tii-u…”

Jeremiah Loel & Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
August 2013

Robson, C., 2008. A field guide to the birds of South-east Asia. New Holland, London. 544 pp.
2. Wells, D.R., 2007. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.

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