Singing Red-vented Bulbuls

Singing Red-vented Bulbuls

Red-vented Bulbul (pycnonotus cafer ), photo by Uditha Hettige.

At times in the morning I now hear up to four male Red-vented Bulbuls singing from their regular ‘song posts’ within vicinity of my home garden. Two of them sing from their regular tree tops (i.e. ‘song posts’) of two immediate neighbouring  gardens and the other two from their ‘song posts’ in the gardens further up. I recorded few song repertoires of one of the males in close vicinity and parts of three repertoires are featured below showing some of the different songs that these bulbuls sing during their breeding season.

Sound track below features a part of repertoire with about four different types of songs. Singing of one of the distant bulbuls can also hear in background of this track.

Sound track below features a part of repertoire with about three different types of songs including the ‘ginger beer’ song at the end (the last two songs), which I described in my last posting in the blog.

Sound track below features a part of repertoire with about six different types of songs including a song sounds ‘sweet potatoes’ at the end (the last two songs), as G. M. Henry names this song type under description of vocalization of the Red-vented Bulbul in his classic book on Sri Lankan birds ‘A guide to the Birds of Ceylon’ (1955).

Deepal Warakagoda, 5 Apr. 2012

Vocalizations of Yellow-rumped Flycatcher

On the vocalizations of Yellow-rumped Flycatcher at Tanamalvila

On 18 January I visited the site in Tanamalvila where a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zathogygia) was found on 3 Jan. 2012 by Amila Salgado. I was there in the mid morning and spent looking for the bird while listening for any unfamiliar bird sound, and about half an hour had gone without any luck. Then I suddenly heard an unfamiliar subsong of a bird and soon realized that it has to be the flycatcher I’m looking for. I quickly started recording the subsong before I tried to see the bird. I was quite eager to see the bird but I kept the recorder going on for few more minutes before I finally tracked down the singer.

Male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zathogygia), a photo taken by Uditha Hettige at the same location some days ago I saw it.


It was my second sighting of this beautiful flycatcher in Sri Lanka, I had found the same species for the first time in Sri Lanka on 7 March 1999. It was on Sellakataragam-Buttala road in Yala Block III. While birdwatching there along the road I heard an unfamiliar melodious song, a somewhat loud song comprising of rather short phrases which reminiscent of parts of the songs of Oriental Magpie-Robin. Looking for the singer I found a beautiful flycatcher singing up on a tree, which was then little later identified as a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher. I was very excited to see this very beautiful flycatcher then as it was new for me as well as for the country!

This time in January the flycatcher in Tanamalvila was only singing its subsong, quite long phrases comprising of high-pitched warbling and squeaking notes, which is sung quite softly (as usual with singing subsongs by the song birds).  Probably this male will sing its crystallized or full song in March before it leaves Sri Lanka.

I visited the site again on 21 Jan. morning and I had to spent more time than it was on the previous occasion till I heard the flycatcher. This time I first heard its calls, a whistled ‘pweep’ sometimes followed by a rattle ‘trirrri’ (reminiscent of the call of Kashmir Flycatcher). Later it sang the subsong for a while too.

The following track features a recording of subsong made on the 21st. It has been edited slightly with reduction of unwanted background sounds to some extent. Subsong is the soft, high-pitched notes heard in a continuous uttering, and sounds of some other birds are also evident in background of the track (i.e.  Brown-headed Barbet, Indian Peafowl and Pale-billed Flowerpecker ).

The following track features a recording of the calls made on the 21st. It has been edited slightly with reduction of unwanted background sounds to some extent. The calls heard are the whistled ‘pweep’ sound and the rattle ‘trirrri’, and sounds of some other birds are also evident in background of the track (i.e. Coppersmith Barbet, Black-headed Oriole, Forest Wagtail, Indian Peafowl and Brown-headed Barbet ).

I have kept the best recordings of subsong and calls of this flycatcher I made on 18th and 21st Jan. to be featured in the forthcoming Vol. 2 of Bird Sounds and Images of Sri Lanka (a CD-ROM compilation of which Vol.1 published in 2008).

Deepal Warakagoda, 5 Feb.2012

White-throated Kingfisher singing

White-throated Kingfisher singing

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), photo by Uditha Hettige.


A male White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) has been singing almost every day from tall tree tops in and around my garden since early last month (March). This male was trying to attract a female while establishing a territory for breeding. Its regular ‘song posts’, of which it sings at each post for a considerable time, are fairly wide apart but most of them can be seen easily from my garden.

I observed a female came on and off to one of the trees where the male was singing from and started displaying to male with its wings spreading out showing distinct white patch in the wings.

I assume the male has now paired out with the female and nesting somewhere within the territory which male has established as now frequency of singing of the male has reduced a lot. The White-throated Kingfishers do not sing like this outside their breeding season.

Sound track below features song of the male kingfishers, recorded on April 29.


Deepal Warakagoda,  04 May 2012.

Red-vented Bulbuls and Scops Owls

Red-vented Bulbuls and Scops Owls

In the morning yesterday I heard calls of mobbing Red-vented Bulbuls from direction of my backyard and inspecting on that I came across a Collared Scops owl (Otus bakkamoena) roosting at a fairly high place on a Bread Fruit tree in the adjoining garden. It was sitting under a clump of large leaves of the tree and two pairs of Red-vented Bulbuls mobbing at the owl while uttering their loud scalding calls. The four bulbuls were later joined by a pair of Purple-rumped Sunbirds (Nectarinia zeylonica) for mobbing the owl.

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Collared Scops owl (Otus bakkamoena), photo by Uditha Hettige

Sound track below features scalding calls the mobbing bulbuls, and also scalding calls of the Purple-rumped Sunbirds towards end.

I heard the bulbuls were mobbing the roosting owl time to time almost throughout the day. This was not a regular roosting place of the scops owls in the area, the pair in this area roosts in the day time at some other place in their territory.  At the late evening I stood in the vicinity of the Bread Fruit tree equipped with my sound recording gear expecting the owl may call at dusk before or after it leaves from its roost. But just at dusk I suddenly heard call of a young scops owl from some distance away. The young owl kept calling for some time and then flew and landed on another tree nearby me.  Although the adult owl didn’t call the young one kept calling and it was soon joined by another calling young owl which flew in from a different direction. Both young birds kept calling for some time before they flew away.

Sound track below features calls of a young scops owls. A hissing sound of the juvenile is very much different from the calls of adult birds.

Deepal Warakagoda, 12 Apr. 2012