Ornithological Note 433

Notes on the vocalizations of Blue-headed Fantail (Rhipidura cyaniceps)

Peter F. D. Boesman September 27, 2016
Section(s): Voice, Systematics

In the following we briefly analyze and compare voice of the different races of Blue-headed Fantail (Rhipidura cyaniceps). 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).

Available recordings from Luzon (races pinicola and cyaniceps) are vocally all about the same (illustrated with sonograms in the pdf version of this note): only known vocalization is a short brisk 'skit!', sometimes combined into short less emphatic rattles (it is unclear if this is actually the song).

In albiventris, notes sound very different, more nasal. On a sonogram differences are very clear: notes are much lower-pitched and slightly longer in duration, show clear harmonics and have an overslurred shape.

We have no recordings available of race sauli.

Assuming above vocalizations are homologous (song?), there is a structural similarity, but the notes in the song are very different: pinicola/cyaniceps: note length 0.015-0.03s vs albiventris note length 0.05-0.07s (score 3), pinicola/cyaniceps: max. freq. base harmonic c 5000Hz vs albiventris c 1000Hz (score 4), and note shape overslurred in albiventris. Application of Tobias criteria would lead to a total vocal score of 7.

This note was finalized on 12th January 2016, using sound recordings available on-line at that moment. We would like to thank in particular the sound recordists who placed their recordings for this species on XC and ML: Desmond Allen, David Edwards, Peter Hosner, Robert Kennedy, Frank Lambert, Ding Li Yong and George Wagner.



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: on433_blue-headed_fantail.pdf 

Recommended Citation

Boesman, P. (2016). Notes on the vocalizations of Blue-headed Fantail (Rhipidura cyaniceps). HBW Alive Ornithological Note 433. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow-on.100433