Black-bellied Malkoha – less often seen and photographed

posted in: Morphology-Develop., Vocalisation | 1

“The Black-bellied Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus diardi diardi) (above, below) is said to be seen and photographed less often as it is more ”shy’ than the commonly seen Green-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis longicaudatus). These birds can, at a quick look, be mistaken for each other and their habitat overlap.

“The key differentiating features are:
1. Tail length: The Black-bellied has a tail length about equal to the body while the Green-billed has a longer 1:1.5 times body-tail length. The Handbook of the Birds of the World & Cuckoos of the World (2012) now calls it the Long-tailed Malkoha. (see composite below – Black-bellied Malkoha is on the right).

2. Face patch: The Green-billed often has a clear white boarder to the red face patch, while the Black-bellied does not (below).

3. Head: The Black-bellied had a darker grey in the head and neck while the Green-billed has slaty grey on the face and neck.

4. Iris colour: Pale blue to dark brown in the Black-bellied and brown to red-brown in the Green-billed.

“An edited section of calls made by this Black-bellied Malkoha can be heard HERE. Below shows the sonogram and waveform.

“The literature on calls suggest ‘pauk’ or ‘gwaup’ sounding calls.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
4th May 2015

Location: Malim Nawar Wetlands, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Extensive ex-tin mining area with extensive pond/lakes, wetlands, fish farming

  1. David

    Dear Dato,
    Thanks for this post. I recently saw 3 types of Malkoha’s at FRIM in KL (all lifers!). All on the same tree! Red-breasted, Raffles’s, and I think the black-bellied. By size, it should not be the green-billed, and the white eye-rim is also missing (or just ever so slight in one photo). But what didn’t fit was that the head was not as dark as your photo above, and in descriptions I have read at various websites. Perhaps it was just the sunlight, but the head looked much paler, and rather like the green-billed. Perhaps, this was just a variation in this particular bird. If you would like to take a look, I have 4 shots of the malkohas at this site (not the sharpest, unfortunately!)

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