Many of us would be familiar with the classical calls of the Black-and-yellow Broadbill (Eurylaimus ochromalus). Wells (2007) describes this call as “the loud advertising call, given by both sexes, is a sustained, rattling trill, accelerating up to scale to a sharp cut off”. I have heard this advertising call often; one juvenile I have heard made a shorter, softer version.
I do not have access to the definitive work by Lambert and Woodcock (1996) where they describe many other vocalisations for this species. Wells (2007) states that “not all of the rest of the vocabulary described by Lambert and Woodcock has been reported from the review area”.
One additional call that is occasionally heard and also reported by Wells (2007) is a curious drawn-out mewing-like call. I have heard it on a very few occasions; once during what appeared to be a courtship event with wing displays. I have also heard and reported these unusual calls by a pair of birds as being made before the ascending advertising calls; there was a rapid transition from the mewing to the advertising calls.
Gulson-Castillo and colleagues (2019) describe “higher pitched and squeakier” soft vocalisations associated with wing displays. These could be the same unusual calls we are discussing here.
On 18th July 2022 at the Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, I observed an adult male, at 7.50am, making these less common “screeching mew” (Wells 2007) calls again. I only saw a single bird that was moving from branch to branch, high in the canopy, only making the screeching mew calls (no advertising calls). The bird was very vocal for about 5 minutes. There were no wing displays or feeding behaviour seen. Calls were made 3-5 seconds apart (often 2-3 seconds apart), lasting 0.75 seconds and had both high and low frequency components. An image of the male bird making the calls and a sonogram / waveform are attached.
A call recording can be heard here: https://xeno-canto.org/738088
At present I would suggest that these calls seem to have some social interaction role, possibly a part of courtship. But more observation is required.
- Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 (Passerines). Christopher Helm, London.
- Frank Lambert, Martin Woodcock (1996). Pittas, Broadbills and Asities. Pica Press
- Gulson-Castillo, Pegan, Greig, et al (2019). Notes on nesting, territoriality and behaviour of broadbills (Eurylaimidae, Calyptomenidae) and pittas (Pittidae) in Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club, 139(1): 8-27.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
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