Lesser Coucal – calls

on 23rd January 2019

“The Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis javanensis) is a common bird and there is has been some uncertainty whether a moulting individual is a juvenile moulting into an adult or a non-breeding adult. I tend to subscribe the opinion that they are non-breeding adults as many birds are in this phase when off the breeding season.

“The images above and below are of two different birds in non-breeding plumage. Their calls fill the countryside and, as I live near an overgrown Chinese graveyard, we hear them often. Above also shows the posture of birds when calling. The bird leans forwards with the head curved down, beak open and throat distended.

“The classical calls are in the edited recording of the calls (see Sound Cloud link) and sonogram/waveform below.

“They start off with a “ho-ho-ho” (Wells 1999) or “kok-ok-oo” (Payne 1997) rattling musical series of calls followed closely by ‘boot, boot, boot’ calls. The sequence can interchange occasionally. The ‘bot’ calls also gives it a local name of ‘boot-boot’. The calls can go on for long periods and are often in the mornings. At the Chinese graveyard near our home I even hear them calling at 4-5am. As the sonogram does not show the calls well I have enlarged one waveform of each call (below) to show their difference. Noted that when played as waveform the ‘boot’ sound actually only appears at the end of the decrescendo of the wave.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
12th December 2018

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Ex-mining pools ‘wetlands’ near limestone hills

Payne, R.B., 1997. Family Cuculidae (cuckoos). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 4. Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp.508-607.
2. Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London. 648 pp.

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.

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