Abbott’s Babbler– family group and calls

posted in: birds, Vocalisation | 0

I had an opportunity to have an extended observation of a presumed family unit of 4 Abbott’s Babblers (Malacocincla abbotti olivacea). I suggest family unit as it is generally described in literature as solitary or in pairs; I have usually seen it in pairs.

The bird that was making the majority of the classical calls.

The presumed adult male parent was calling out intermittently for the entire period I could observe them (~ 40 minutes). What was interesting was there was often a response call which I presume was made by the female as a contact call, but could have been by other members of the family. Unfortunately I was not able to image all the birds and look for juvenile features: a ‘dull yellow lower mandible’ and ‘cap and upper parts more rufescent brown’ (Wells 2007).

Another image of the bird that was making the majority of the classical calls.

I think in the lighting we see these birds I would be hard out to differentiate adults from juveniles. By behaviour one bird led the group and another gave responsive calls suggesting these were parents and the two accompanying birds the brood. No feeding of any birds was seen but easily missed in this thick undergrowth.

The bird that was making responsive calls.

The responses are often two notes but occasionally single. They are often made at the tail end as the lead bird is calling but can be before or during the calls. An edited recording of some calls is available here:

Sonogram and waveform of the classical and responsive calls.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Secondary growth in the city

Date: 20th March 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone


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