Common iora

Aegithina tiphia

TAXONOMY

Motacilla tiphia Linnaeus, 1758, Bengal. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Iora, black-winged iora; French: Petit iora; German: Schwarzflügelaegithina; Spanish: Iora Común.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5.5-6 in (13-17 cm); 0.5 oz (13.5 g). Males have dark green to black upperparts, bright yellow underparts, black wings with white bars, dark tails, and black crowns. Females have olive-green upperparts, duller yellow underparts, foreheads, and eyebrows, and olive-green crowns.

DISTRIBUTION

Almost all of Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, southern Yunnan and southwestern Guanxi, all of Myanmar, Indochina and the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Palawan.

HABITAT

Open woodlands, secondary forest, gardens, orchards, mangroves, and beach forests.

BEHAVIOR

Outside of breeding season, travels in small flocks or pairs, continuously hunting for small arthropods. Contact is maintained through frequent vocalizations. Distinctive melodious songs and whistles.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Though some fruit is consumed, diet predominantly small arthropods (spiders, moths, caterpillars, etc.) gleaned from leaves.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Distinctive courtship behavior: Male repeatedly leaps one or two meters above perch, then glides back down with feathers erected, assuming a spherical appearance. The nest is deep and cup-shaped. Clutch size two to four. Eggs are pinkish white with brownish or purplish blotches.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Has likely expanded its range due to creation of orchards and gardens.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Controls caterpillars and other harmful insects in fruit orchards. ♦

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