Ornithological Note 157

Notes on the vocalizations of Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera)

Peter F. D. Boesman April 22, 2016
Section(s): Voice, Systematics

In the following we briefly analyze and compare voice of the different races of Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera). We also try to quantify the extent of any vocal differences using the criteria proposed by Tobias et al. (2010), as a support for taxonomic review. We have made use of sound recordings available on-line from Xeno Canto (XC) and Macaulay Library (ML).

Most common vocalization seems to be a constant chipping, a single note repeated for a long period with somewhat irregular short intervals. These notes can be found in most recordings:

'Black-capped': pileata (n=4)

max. freq.                             6000 - 8300Hz

min. freq.                              1900 - 3500Hz

note length                          0.05 - 0.11s

pace                                      0.12 - 0.35s

freq. range                           3100 - 5600Hz

shape                                    consistently dagger-shaped

'Orange-winged': chrysoptera (n=4 )

max. freq.                             7400 - 7500Hz

min. freq.                              2500 - 3000Hz

note length                          0.02 - 0.15

pace                                      0.07 - 0.25

freq. range                           4500 - 5000Hz

shape                                    occasionally some short symmetrical overslurred notes, but invariably combined with lower-pitched long uplurred notes

'White-headed': leucocephala (n=1)

max. freq.                             7700Hz

min. freq.                              3000hz

note length                          0.06 - 0.19s

pace                                      0.18 - 0.25s

freq. range                           4700Hz

shape                                    Here the chip notes seem to have a burry plateau

'Striated': striata (n=1)

max. freq.                             7900Hz

min. freq.                              2500Hz

note length                          0.03 - 0.045s

pace                                      0.12 - 0.25s

freq. range                           5400Hz

shape                                    dagger-shaped, like black-capped

'Papua': papuensis (n=4)

max. freq.                             8150 - 9200Hz

min. freq.                              3400 - 3700hz

note length                          0.07 - 0.10s

pace                                      0.18 - 0.44s

freq. range                           5000 - 5700Hz

shape                                    dagger-shaped, but higher freq. than Black-capped/Striated


Differences in these homologous call notes are clearly subtle, and are mainly apparent in note shape rather than in basic parameters. A larger sample size would be needed to confirm if these differences are consistent, but tentatively we could say:

- race chrysoptera differs from all other races by the combination of short overslurred chip notes and upslurred whistes (score 2)

- race leucocephala: differs from all other races by chip notes which have a burry appearance on sonogram (score 1-2)

- race papuensis: differs from all other races in the slightly higher frequencies (score 1-2)

- races pileata and striata: no obvious vocal differences.


This note was finalized on 8th October 2015, using sound recordings available on-line at that moment. We would like to thank in particular the sound recordists: Patrik Åberg, Benjamin Freeman, Emma Greig, Frank Lambert, Fred Loetscher, Linda Macaulay, Mark Robbins, Nick Talbot and Fred Van Gessel.



Tobias, J.A., Seddon, N., Spottiswoode, C.N., Pilgrim, J.D., Fishpool, L.D.C. & Collar, N.J. (2010). Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis 152(4): 724–746.

More Information: on157_varied_sittella.pdf 

Recommended Citation

Boesman, P. (2016). Notes on the vocalizations of Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera). HBW Alive Ornithological Note 157. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow-on.100157