Calls & Sounds

Painting of Chowchilla (Orthonyx spaldingii) by John Gould
Painting of a pair of Chowchilla (Orthonyx spaldingii) by John Gould

The song of the Chowchilla is a unique sound of Queensland upland rainforests. The rhythmic, strident “chow-chilla-chow-chow-chilla” or “chowy-chook-chook chowy-chook-chook” phrases are often given by small family groups in territorial song in the early morning. Other calls include softer growls and clucks.

The Chowchilla (Orthonyx spaldingii) is a ground-dwelling bird found in upland rainforests of tropical northern Queensland, Australia. It is closely related to the Australian Logrunner (Orthonyx temminckii) which is found farther south in south-east Queensland and New South Wales.

Two subspecies are recognized, Orthonyx spaldingii melasmenus (found in the northerly parts of its range) and Orthonyx spaldingii spaldingii (found from the Macalister & Herberton Ranges south to the Paluma Ranges). There are noticeable differences between the songs of each subspecies (see audio samples below), and also some regional song variation within each taxa.

Listen to Chowchilla Sounds

The audio in the video below features the sounds of two groups of Chowchillas (ssp. melasmenus) calling in Queensland’s cloud forest. Recorded in Mount Lewis National Park. In the background are the calls of Grey-headed Robin & Fernwren.


Chowchilla – Group singing (ssp spaldingii)

XC526128 Group singing. Early morning in Wooroonooran National Park, Queensland.



Chowchilla – Group singing (ssp spaldingii)

XC434873 Group singing. Early morning in Girringun National Park, Queensland.

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