White-browed Crake – plumage and calls

posted in: Morphology-Develop., Vocalisation | 0

“I met a pair of very accommodating White-browed Crakes (Porzana cinerea) today and was able to spend a long time watching and recording different calls.

“Some observations about plumage; a close-up of the face of one of the birds as seen above. Handbook of the Birds of the World (Vol. 2019) suggests that ‘in fresh plumage forehead and crown grey, becoming black with wear’. Both the birds I saw (above and below of one individual and top of the other) had darker scalps.

“A number of guides state that the bill is olive-green with a red base. But all the birds I have seen over the years have a yellow-orange bill with a red base; unless there is some change with breeding and I strike only these birds.

“The image above contains a sonogram and waveform of the call I hear the least often but I am increasingly convinced this is a territorial call. A recording of the call is located HERE. It is a long call lasting 7-9 seconds (6 recordings) and is best described as a trill (or a horse neighing). Often both partners in the pair join together in making this complex call. It starts loud and continues like this for 4-5 seconds before winding down slowly and repeated later.

“This call is the one most often recorded (see xeno-canto HERE, much softer and less noticed.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
30th October 2019

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Ex-mining pools, fish farming, secondary growth

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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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