Ornithological Note 253

Notes on the vocalizations of Slaty-backed Chat-tyrant (Ochthoeca cinnamomeiventris)

Peter F. D. Boesman April 24, 2016
Section(s): Voice, Systematics

In the following we briefly analyze and compare voice of the different races of Slaty-backed Chat-tyrant (Ochthoeca cinnamomeiventris). 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).

Day-time song is a high-pitched whistle. When agitated this high-pitched whistle is followed by a series of notes. In the following we only compare the single high-pitched whistle (Fig. 1, illustrated in the pdf verion of this note):

O. c. cinnamomeiventris (n=9)

min. freq.                              3900-5000Hz      

max. freq.                             5800-7900Hz

freq. range                           2000-3500Hz      

total length                           0.54-0.86s

note shape                           crescent-shaped, usually with some artefacts at start, and sometimes  quite buzzy

O. c. angustifasciata  and O. c. thoracica (n=7)

min. freq.                              4700-6400Hz

max. freq.                             5900-8300Hz

freq. range                           600-1900Hz

total length                           0.90-1.22s

note shape                           initially rising, then usually gradually descending

O. c. nigrita (0 recordings available)

The whistled note of O. c. angustifasciata/thoracica clearly differs by its longer length (score 2), smaller frequency range (score 2) and slightly higher lowest frequency (score 1). When applying Tobias criteria, this would lead to a total vocal score of 4.

Hilty (2003) decribes nigrita and cinnamomeiventris as two distinct species in his Venezuela guide, with voice descriptions that clearly indicate a difference. We haven't found any recordings to substantiate this difference, and unfortunately Hilty's (analog) recordings were not readily available (in litt.). We can thus only conclude there is probably also a vocal difference here.

This note was finalized on 10th July 2015, 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.



Hilty, S.L. (2003). Birds of Venezuela. Princeton University Press & Christopher Helm, Princeton & London.

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: on253_slaty-backed_chat-tyrant.pdf 

Recommended Citation

Boesman, P. (2016). Notes on the vocalizations of Slaty-backed Chat-tyrant (Ochthoeca cinnamomeiventris). HBW Alive Ornithological Note 253. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow-on.100253