Ornithological Note 229

Notes on the vocalizations of Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis)

Peter F. D. Boesman April 23, 2016
Section(s): Voice, Systematics

In the following we briefly analyze and compare voice of the different races of Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis). 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).

Song of all races is a complex composite note repeated at a regular pace, typically in strophes of some 5-8 repeats. Our main interest is to evaluate song of brevicauda compared to other races, as vocal difference has been noted in HBW Alive (Madge 2016) and Rasmussen et al. (2012). Some examples of song (illustrated with multiple sonograms in the pdf version of this note): Sri Lanka (brevicauda), socialis, stewarti and inglisi (n=1).

From the above it is clear that there is considerable variation in the composite note within all races, with more variants becoming available with increasing number of recordings. brevicauda does not seem to differ significantly in any basic sound parameter (although possibly reaching on average slightly lower frequencies than other races). Song of inglisi seems to be quite different with note elements in a narrow frequency range, but this is based on a single recording and example 4 of socialis is actually quite similar. When more recordings become available, a more profound analysis may reveal slight differences in vocabulary, but at this stage, we can only conclude that brevicauda does not show consistent vocal differences in comparison with other races.

This note was finalized on 10th March 2016, using sound recordings available on-line at that moment. We would like to thank in particular the many sound recordists who placed their recordings for this species on XC and ML.



Madge, S. (2016). Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/58591 on 10 March 2016).

Rasmussen, P.C. & Anderton, J.C. (2012). Birds of South Asia: the Ripley Guide. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

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: on229_ashy_prinia.pdf 

Recommended Citation

Boesman, P. (2016). Notes on the vocalizations of Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis). HBW Alive Ornithological Note 229. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow-on.100229