Crested Fireback Lophura ignita Scientific name definitions

Guy M. Kirwan, Josep del Hoyo, Philip J. K. McGowan, Nigel Collar, David Christie, and Peter F. D. Boesman
Version: 2.0 — Published September 24, 2021

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

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Vocal Development

No information.

Vocal Array

Vocalizations are quite varied, and especially the repertoire of faint low-pitched sounds is quite extensive. We can discern the following categories:

Squeal. Loud squeals or piping whistles are uttered by males during agressive encounters. Notes are quite variable but typically sound shrill or plaintive, and are drawn-out (duration ca. 0.6‒1.0 second).

Squirrel call. A loud snapping note reminiscent of a squirrel vocalization (Black-backed Squirrel Sciurus bicolor 30). This note is actually doubled and consists of a low-pitched ventriloquial sound immediately followed by a whipping downslurred note, sounding like guh-CHIK! It is repeated typically many times at a pace of 2‒4 calls/second, with a call duration of about 0.1 second. Downslurred CHIK! drops quickly from about 7 kHz to 1 kHz.

Mellow notes. At close range, a variety of faint mellow vocalizations can be heard. Some remind the water-bottle vocalizations of a coucal, or sound like a mellow upslurred wook, while others are stuttered or rolling series of low-pitched notes (all below 600 Hz).

Grunts. Short faint growls, grunts, barks or clucks can also be heard, often in combination with Mellow notes.

Cackle. During the wing-whirring display, males may utter soft rhythmic cackles.

Geographic Variation

All above described vocal categories can be heard from both groups in Borneo and the Malayan peninsula (with little information about the Sumatran population). A detailed vocal comparison has not been performed yet however.


Little information. Most vocalizations can likely be heard most of the year.

Daily Pattern of Vocalizing

Mainly vocal during the early morning and in late afternoon.

Places of Vocalizing

Vocalizations are uttered from the forest floor. Wing-whirring display is typically performed at a fixed location, the display-court.

Sex Differences

Squeals and Cackles during wing-whirring display are male-only vocalizations. All other voice types are uttered by both sexes, and it is unknown whether there are gender differences in these.

Social Content and Presumed Functions of Vocalizations

Wing-whirring display signals presence at a distance, and probably has both territorial and mate attraction functions. Males can be very pugnaceous, and Squeals are typically heard during such fights. The Squirrel call is uttered in a variety of situations and likely expresses distress or alarm. Mellow notes and Grunts are given in short-range communication to maintain contact.

Nonvocal Sounds

During display, males make a whirring sound with their wings (about 12 beats over 1.2 seconds). This low-pitched rumble is often accompanied by Cackles or Squirrel calls (see above). Wing ruffling can also be heard during disputes between rival males, and was noted once from a female bird (4).

Feeding pairs or family parties may also be detected by the noise they make when walking and scratching among dry leaves on the forest floor.

Recommended Citation

Kirwan, G. M., J. del Hoyo, P. J. K. McGowan, N. Collar, D. A. Christie, and P. F. D. Boesman (2021). Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (B. K. Keeney, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.crefir1.02