Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia


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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Fig 1 : Common Iora - male

Fig 2 : Common Iora - male

Fig 3 : Common Iora - male

Fig 4 : Common Iora - female

Fig 5 : Common Iora - female





Ioras comprise the family Aegithinidae, of which there are just four species. They occur mainly in lowland tropical forests and sometimes mangrove. The Common Iora Aegithina tiphia, has adapted well to parks and gardens.

They are small, sparrow-sized birds with short bills and short, thin legs and a short tail. The plumage of the various species comprises a mix of yellow, green and black. Males are brightly coloured, especially during the breeding season, and females more plain.

These birds are mainly active in the treetops, sometimes descending to mid-canopy level, but rarely to low-level or ground. Typically the male can be heard calling from the highest branch of a tree - the call comprises a variety of melodic whistles.

Their food prey includes insects and spiders. Their cup-shaped nests are constructed from dried grasses, held together with spider webs : these are discretely located in the high branches of leafy trees.

Three of the species of iora occur in Southeast Asia, and the other is confined to the Indian subcontinent.

Figs 1 to 3:
Common Iora - male (breeding colours)
Aegithina tiphia
Location : Portsdown, Singapore.
Habitat : Secondary forest

Notes :
Fig 1 : The Common Iora is mainly active in the treetops, rarely coming to ground level.

Fig 2 : Insects comprise the main food source of ioras.

Fig 3 : Gathering spider webs, which are used to bind together other nesting material, mainly grasses.

Figs 4 and 5 :
Common Iora - female
Aegithina tiphia
Location : Neo Tiew, Singapore.
Habitat : Secondary scrub forest