Shrike-tit calls

To: Graeme Chapman <>
Subject: Shrike-tit calls
From: Peter Lansley <>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 16:50:35 +1100
Hi Graeme,
interesting that Eastern Shrike-tits can have significantly different calls to 
Northern S-t, thanks for enlightening me. 

I was almost going to say that I had not had much experience with the species 
in Qld (once I think) but left it that my experience was based on 
'south-eastern Australia'. Specifically, Victoria where I've seen and heard the 
species probably upward of 100 occasions, and the calls are pretty uniform in 
my experience across Vic. (and like I said, very similar to those I heard at 
Drysdale River). It is a species frequently detected by call - the calls are so 
distinctive, nothing much else is confusable...although I guess if calling at a 
distance, Black-eared Cuckoo may sound similar.
I certainly agree with your point that we know little about the repertoire of 
many of our common bush birds and there is probably much undocumented variation.

An example is Little Grassbird, how many on birding-aus realise that this 
species, apart from the usual mournful whistle (sonograms A & B, HANZAB v. 7 p. 
1643), has a staccato piping comprising at least three notes per second and 
lasting for about 1.5 - 2 seconds (uttered less commonly, but I've heard it 
give this call on several occasions at Werribee Treatment Plant including last 
weekend 6/1/13)? You won't find that documented in HANZAB which only describes 
two types of calls (it's not the harsh rattling call of Sonogram C either). 
However, "song in WA is said to be considerably different from e. Aust." but no 
detail is given (under the 'geographical variation' heading in voice section, 
p. 1643).


On 13/01/2013, at 4:14 PM, Graeme Chapman wrote:

> Hello Peter,
> Just to pick up on your comment that "I'm not sure where Phil's idea of 'very 
> different Calls' comes from". Until I'd spent some time at O'Reillys in the 
> rainforest I would have agreed with Phil - the calls of Northern Shrike Tits 
> do sound different to Eastern Shrike-tits but now that I have had more 
> experience I would modify that statement to ......sound different to most 
> Eastern Shrike-tits.
> In my experience, the rainforest inhabiting birds at O'Reillys (a very odd 
> habitat for a Shrike-tit) do have in their repertoire calls that are almost 
> identical to the northern Shrike-tits at Drysdale River. I've heard and 
> recorded lots of Eastern Shrike-tits and haven't heard "northern" type calls 
> anywhere but at O'Reillys. I would be interested to know where you've heard 
> these calls in the east - they must surely occur elsewhere because you are 
> obviously familiar with them. Unfortunately we know so little about the 
> entire repertoire of all but a few of our native birds in Australia that it's 
> downright embarrassing.
> For those who are interested in the different Shrike-tit calls, my website 
> has a  good selection where they can be compared easily .
> Cheers
> Graeme Chapman


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