The Curious Malaysian Rail-babbler

The Curious Malaysian Rail-babbler

The curious Malaysian Rail-babbler Eupetes macrocerus, Panti Bird Sanctuary, Johor, Malaysia

The Malaysia Rail-babbler is a curious bird: curious to behold, and sometimes very curious and inquisitive by nature.  These images were taken in April and August 2011 in the Panti Bird Sanctuary where it is fairly common.  In April, I was lucky – I heard the bird calling, imitated his whistle briefly and he appeared – but I had to retrieve the camera I had put down earlier, usually in such circumstances the bird has flown by the time you are ready, but he was still there and sang from a secluded spot for 15 minutes! Note when the bird is calling it has a long whistle of several seconds, and it’s blue throat pouches inflate to sustain the whistle.

Malaysian Rail-babbler

In August, much the same happened – I heard calls close-by, whistled back just twice and the bird appeared in the open in front of me, walked close by me and hopped on a log just behind me and serenaded me for 10 minutes.  I was speechless!  For you photo enthusiasts, the image at the top of the page is uncropped, full frame!


Bowler, J. (2008). Rail-babbler Eupetes macrocerus calling display: BirdingASIA 9: 78-79

Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, 2. London: Christopher Helm.

Note:  A version of this article appeared in BirdingASIA No 16 Dec 2011

also see A Recent Rail-babbler Sighting


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One Response to “The Curious Malaysian Rail-babbler”

  1. Choy Wai Mun says:

    Amazing! One of the most enigmatic and elusive forest birds in Malaysia just gave you a performance of a lifetime.

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