Blue Whistling Thrush – song

posted in: birds, Feeding-plants, Vocalisation | 0

Note the bird looking for berries at the Fishtail palm (Caryota mitis); saw it took a few.

I had an interesting encounter with a single Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus dichrorhynchus) today (7.45am-8.20am). I saw it feeding in a dark environment adjacent to limestone hills with caves. Apart from feeding on prey on the ground in also ate the fruit of the Fishtail palm (Caryota mitis) – a new food source documentation. Of interest was the song (Wells 2009 says that song in the region is not well described). I am familiar with the piercing whistle calls and harsh screeches. On this occasion it sat in a tree, after feeding, and sang continually for 7-8 minutes, only stopping because of my movement. There were no other visible Blue Whistling Thrushes around, it did not appear to be nesting and there were no threats (apart from me, situated at a distance of 4-5 meter).

Image shows the jizz of the bird while singing; beak not open, throat not full, head cocked to one side (occasionally downwards).

The song was a continual ‘barrage’ of musical notes of different intensity, interspersed with some ‘bubbling’ chattering and occasional odd noises (one heard at the end of the recording). The bird did not open the beak to make all these notes (I checked with the camera a few times). The bird did look at me and cock its head few times while singing but no other displays were given. If I had not watched the bird and heard the song myself, I would have assumed 2 or 3 birds were making the notes instead of just 1.

Sonogram and waveform of a short segment of the song; a chaotic jumble of notes.

Handbook of Birds of the World Alive (2019) says that “courtship song, preceding copulation, a subdued bubbling chatter interspersed with buzzing calls” and this did sound a bit like that. Allen Jeyarajasingam (A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. OUP Oxford, 2012) says “Song is a cadence of rich mellow fluty notes and rather harsh scratchy notes. Contact call is a high-pitched whistle ‘scree’ when foraging”.

One recording of song here: https://soundcloud.com/amar-singh-hss/blue-whistling-thrush-myophonus-caeruleus-dichrorhynchus-song (I had more recordings made).

Note: ISO for images was through the roof as light had yet to reach this section blocked by the limestone hill.

 

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Fringe of city near limestone hills

Date: 30th January 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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