African Tailorbird Artisornis metopias Scientific name definitions

Flemming P. Jensen and Peter F. D. Boesman
Version: 2.0 — Published December 23, 2022

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The song of the African Tailorbird is usually a male‒female duet performed low in dense forest undergrowth, but each component of the song may also be given alone.



Information needed.

Vocal Array

Song. A single strident note which is repeated many times in a moderately fast series. This repeated note typically has a simple structure but is quite variable, and can be either an upslurred tsui-tsui-tsui-tsui or a downslurred tseeu-tseeu-tseeu-tseeu (11), with most energy between 4 and 6 kHz. Notes are repeated at a pace of ca. 2‒3 notes/s, series has about 4‒10 notes, and such series is typically uttered once or a few times with intervals of 1‒3 s.

Duet. Song is often answered immediately by mate with a repeated bleating buzzy note in a simultaneous asynchronous duet. Notes of this second voice are shorter and fainter than those of the Song, and may be repeated rather irregularly. Phrases are often longer in a Duet than in the Song of a single bird.

Scold. A fast scolding series or burst of nasal notes (xeno-canto: XC450330). Typically faster and louder than the second voice of a Duet.

Other. A very short faint chup can also be heard occasionally.

Geographic Variation

Information needed. Sound recordings indicate voice is at least structurally very similar among the various allopatric populations.


Information needed. All available sound recordings are from the second half of the year (i.e., beginning of the breeding season and start of the rains in November‒December).

Daily Pattern of Vocalizing

Little information. Mainly vocal during the morning and in late afternoon.

Places of Vocalizing

Sings from a perch at low level (< 2 m height), typically a thin branch or stem of dense undergrowth in humid montane forest or forest edge, remaining (partially) hidden from eye-sight.

Sex Differences

Information needed. It is unclear whether the two voices of Duet are sex-specific.

Social Context and Presumed Functions of Vocalizations

Information needed. An aggressive duet is heard when defending the territory; see Agonistic Behavior, and suggests both members of the pair defend their territory. Scold has been heard close to the nest, and may be an alarm call in response to intruders.

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Recommended Citation

Jensen, F. P. and P. F. D. Boesman (2022). African Tailorbird (Artisornis metopias), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.afrtai2.02