I was privileged to watch a social group of 4 Pin-striped Tit Babblers (Macronus (Mixornis) gularis gularis) displaying together. I have in the past occasionally seen this common babbler display individually – arches the back and points the beak skyward when calling out. On this occasion I saw a group of 4 birds do this continually for 7 minutes. The will rapidly move the body from a horizontal position to a vertical or arched backward posture, repeatedly, while calling out. There was no conflict between the group. Post 1 and 2 show 2 birds and Post 3 and 4 show individual birds. Wells (2007) notes that “Loud song occurs in a group context and groups are suspected to advertise communally”.
The call made during this activity were the common harsh “chrrrt-chrr” or “chrrrt-chrr-chrri” (Robson 2002), but with much variation. A call recording of this group here: https://www.xeno-canto.org/616394
The activity is very fast and best seen by video. I was, as usual, handheld. I tried using a stick as a monopod and a very short clip of the ‘head-bobbing’ activity here: https://youtu.be/mpoIEP8EezM
Note also that one bird had a different coloured, lighter iris (Post 1 lower bird). Most of the Pin-striped Tit Babblers I encounter in my region have a dark red-brown iris. This bird has a lighter, pale yellow colour of the inner part of the iris. I considered some type of albinism but the plumage is normal. Species which occur in the north (Thailand and above) have lighter iris. I wonder if this bird is a M. g. connectens?
Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Fruit farming with secondary growth
Date: 21st January 2021
Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone