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Chloropseidae

Leafbird
Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati ©Ian Montgomery Website

The leafbirds (Chloropseidae) are a family of small passerine bird species found in India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. They are one of only three bird families that are entirely endemic to the Indomalayan ecozone. They were formerly grouped with the ioras and fairy-bluebirds in the family Irenidae. As presently defined, the leafbird family is monogeneric, with all species placed in the genus Chloropsis.

The leafbirds range in size from 14cm to 21cm and in weight from 15g to 48g. They resemble bulbuls, but whereas that group tends to be drab in colour, leafbirds are brightly plumaged, with the predominant green over the body giving rise to their common name. The family is mostly sexually dimorphic in their plumage, this can vary from the highly dimorphic orange-bellied leafbird to the Philippine Leafbird, which exhibits no sexual dimorphism. Most of the differences between the sexes are in the extent of the other colours in the plumage, particularly in the colours around the head and the blue or black face mask, with females have less colour and a less extensive (or absent) mask. Some species have blue on the wings and tail. The plumage of juvenile birds is a duller version of the female's. To human ears, their songs are melodious, and several species are good mimics. The calls include whistles and chatters.

Like bulbuls, leafbirds drop many body feathers when they are handled. This may confuse predators, especially snakes.

Leafbirds are always found in trees and shrubs. Most are restricted to evergreen forests except the Golden-fronted Leafbird and Jerdon's Leafbird which live in deciduous monsoon forests, and the Orange-bellied Leafbird, which occurs in deciduous forests. Within this requirement, they occupy all broadleaf forest types in the South and Southeast Asia. The highest altitude they occur at is 2500m. Some species, such as the Blue-masked Leafbird, have montane distributions, rarely descending below 1000m.

The Orange-bellied Leafbird and the Golden-fronted Leafbird are amongst the more widespread species, with large ranges across mainland Asia. Some species have more restricted distributions, such as the Yellow-throated Leafbird, which is endemic to the Philippine island of Palawan, and the Bornean Leafbird, restricted to northern Borneo. In general there are seldom more than three species occurring in the same area, although five species co-occur in the submontane forests of Sumatra. Co-occurring species are usually well-spaced on the spectrum of size, to reduce competition

Leafbirds usually feed in the canopy, eating insects and some fruit and nectar. Prey is searched for by nimbly moving along the branch ends and gleaned. They are also capable of hover-gleaning to obtain prey, and will pursue flushed prey into the air or even as far as the forest floor. The extent to which the leafbirds consume nectar is a matter of some debate, records are more common in Southern Asia compared to South East Asia. Some species join mixed feeding flocks now and then; others defend the blooming and fruiting trees and bushes where they forage.

Unlike most tropical Asian passerines, the nests of leafbirds are not located low down in the forest, but are instead found on the ends of branches near the tree crown. As such the nests of many species have rarely, if ever, been seen. The nests are open cups; of the few known, they are built of fine stems, leaf parts and rootlets. Some hang from thin horizontal shoots of trees; in others the rim is attached to a pair of vertical twigs. Females lay 2 or 3 pinkish eggs. The only information for incubation times come from captive birds, and incubation lasts around 14 days. Incubation is apparently performed only by the female, although in at least two species the male feeds the incubating females

According to most authorities there are just 11 species of Leafbird; they are:

Philippine Leafbird Chloropsis flavipennis
Yellow-throated Leafbird Chloropsis palawanensis
Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati
Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis
Bornean Leafbird Chloropsis kinabaluensis
Jerdon's Leafbird Chloropsis jerdoni
Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
Sumatran Leafbird Chloropsis media
Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii
Blue-masked Leafbird Chloropsis venusta

Family Links

Leafbirds Chloropseidae

Family Account

The Leafbirds are a small group of arboreal passerines found throughout tropical Asia. All are in the same genus Chloropsis so they are all closely related. Five species are fairly widespread in SE Asia/Greater Sundas; one is endemic to Sumatra, and two are endemic to the Philippines. Leafbirds tend to be various combinations of green, yellow, and sometimes a little blue, but perhaps the most attractive is the Gold-fronted Leafbird…

Leafbirds Chloropseidae

HBW Family Account

Annotated species list

Leafbirds Chloropseidae

Family Account

The leafbirds (Chloropseidae) are a family of small passerine bird species found in India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

Species Links

Blue-masked Leafbird Chloropsis venusta

BirdLife Species Account

Blue-masked Leafbird Chloropsis venusta

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Blue-masked Leafbird Chloropsis venusta

Species Account

The blue-masked leafbird (Chloropsis venusta) is a species of bird in the Chloropseidae family. It is endemic to humid montane forest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is the smallest species of leafbird.

Blue-masked Leafbird Chloropsis venusta

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Phyllornis venusta Bonaparte, 1850, Sumatra. Monotypic.

Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis

Species Account

The blue-winged leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis) is a species of leafbird found in forest and second growth throughout Southeast Asia as far east as Borneo and as far south as Java.

Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Turdus Cochinchinensis J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Cochinchina; error = Java. Probably forms a superspecies with C. jerdoni, C. kinabaluensis and C. palawanensis; until recently was regarded as conspecific with first two. The name nigricollis, long used for the Javan (nominate) race, has no designated type or type locality, and therefore no formal taxonomic standing. Described races icterocephala (from Sumatra), billitonis (Belitung) and natunensis (Natuna Is) considered better merged with moluccensis. Seven subspecies recognized.

Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis

BirdLife Species Account

Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis

Species Account

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Bornean Leafbird Chloropsis kinabaluensis

BirdLife Species Account

Bornean Leafbird Chloropsis kinabaluensis

Species Account

The Bornean leafbird (Chloropsis kinabaluensis), also known as the Kinabalu leafbird, is a species of bird in the Chloropseidae family. It is found in humid forests in northern Borneo, to which island it is endemic. It has traditionally been considered a subspecies of the blue-winged leafbird (C. cochinchinensis), but differ in measurements and morphology, the female Borneon leafbird having a distinctive male-like plumage.

Bornean Leafbird Chloropsis kinabaluensis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Chloropsis kinabaluensis Sharpe, 1887, Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo.

Bornean Leafbird Chloropsis kinabaluensis

Species Account

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Bornean Leafbird Chloropsis kinabaluensis

IUCN Species Status

The population size is unknown, but the species is described as fairly common (del Hoyo et al. 2006).

Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons

Species Account

The golden-fronted leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons) is a species of leafbird. It is a common resident breeder in India, Sri Lanka, and parts of Southeast Asia. It often includes the Sumatran leafbird (C. media) from Sumatra as a subspecies, but the two differ extensively in, among others, morphology.

Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons

BirdLife Species Account

Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Phyllornis aurifrons Temminck, 1829, Cachar, Assam, north-east India. Forms a superspecies with C. media and was for long considered conspecific, but differs in several respects, including in development of mask. Six subspecies recognized.

Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons

IUCN Species Status

The population size is unknown, but the species is described as common to fairly common throughout much of its range (del Hoyo et al. 2006).

Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons

Species Account

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Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati

BirdLife Species Account

Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Chloropsis Sonnerati Jardine and Selby, 1827, Java. Named race parvirostris, from Nias I (off W Sumatra), merged with zosterops, as its bill characters fall within range of variation of mainland populations. Two subspecies recognized.

Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati

Species Account

The greater green leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati) is a species of bird in the Chloropseidae family. It is distinguished from the lesser green leafbird (Chloropsis cyanopogon) by its powerful beak, yellow throat and eye ring of the female; and lack of a yellow border along the black throat patch found in the male c. cyanopogan.

Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati

IUCN Species Status

c.20 cm. The largest leafbird, gleaming green above and golden yellow-green below with a long hook-tipped bill. Male has a black mask enclosing the eye and a cobalt blue jawline flash. Female lacks the mask and has a paler blue jawline flash. Known for the clarity of its voice, and ready ability to incorporate other species phrases into its vocabulary, much to the species detriment at present.

Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Jerdon's Leafbird Chloropsis jerdoni

Species Account

Jerdon's leafbird (Chloropsis jerdoni) is a species of leafbird found in forest and woodland in India and Sri Lanka. Its name honours Thomas C. Jerdon.[2] It has traditionally been considered a subspecies of the blue-winged leafbird (C. cochinchinensis), but differ in measurements and morphology, it lacking the blue flight feathers for which the blue-winged leafbird was named.

Jerdon's Leafbird Chloropsis jerdoni

BirdLife Species Account

Jerdon's Leafbird Chloropsis jerdoni

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Jerdon's Leafbird Chloropsis jerdoni

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Phyllornis jerdoni Blyth, 1844, central India. Probably forms a superspecies with C. cochinchinensis, C. kinabaluensis and C. palawanensis; was for long regarded as a race of first of those, but differs in bill morphology and plumage details. Wing length in N (male 92–93 mm, two females 86 mm and 88 mm) larger than in S (male down to 85 mm in Sri Lanka), but differences considered insufficient to warrant naming of geographical races. Monotypic.

Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon

Species Account

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Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon

BirdLife Species Account

Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Phyllornis cyanopogon Temminck, 1830, Palembang, Sumatra. Two subspecies recognized.

Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon

Species Account

The lesser green leafbird (Chloropsis cyanopogon) is a species of bird in the Chloropseidae family. It is found in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon

IUCN Species Status

This forest-associated species is listed as Near Threatened because it is assumed to have experienced moderately rapid declines owing to the extensive loss of lowland forests from large areas of South-East Asia.

Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii

Species Account

The orange-bellied leafbird (Chloropsis hardwickii) is a bird native to the central and eastern Himalayas, Yunnan and northern parts of Southeast Asia. The scientific name commemorates the English naturalist Thomas Hardwicke.

Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Chloropsis Hardwickii Jardine and Selby, 1830, Nepal. Nominate race and malayana intergrade in S Myanmar (N Tenasserim) and possibly more widely; these two are well differentiated from E races, but the two groups intergrade in N Laos, possibly also in SW China. Population in SC Vietnam (including Da Lat Plateau), currently included in melliana, may represent a separate, as yet undescribed race; further study required. Four subspecies recognized.

Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii

BirdLife Species Account

Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii

Species Account

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Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii

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Philippine Leafbird Chloropsis flavipennis

BirdLife Species Account

Philippine Leafbird Chloropsis flavipennis

Species Account

The Philippine leafbird (Chloropsis flavipennis) is a species of bird in the Chloropseidae family. It is endemic to the Philippines. It is found in the islands of Mindanao, Leyte, and Cebu.

Philippine Leafbird Chloropsis flavipennis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Phyllornis flavipennis Tweeddale, 1878, Cebu, Philippines. Relationships uncertain; its yellow flight-feather edging most closely resembles that of C. jerdoni. Birds from NE Mindanao, described as race mindanensis, considered inseparable from those in rest of range. Monotypic.

Philippine Leafbird Chloropsis flavipennis

IUCN Species Status

18 cm. Small-medium, green, canopy-dwelling passerine. Entire plumage bright green except for yellow eye-ring, throat and line on closed wing formed by yellow primary fringes. Dark bill, iris and legs.

Philippine Leafbird Chloropsis flavipennis

Species Account

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Sumatran Leafbird Chloropsis media

BirdLife Species Account

Sumatran Leafbird Chloropsis media

Species Account

The Sumatran leafbird (Chloropsis media) is a species of bird in the Chloropseidae family. It is endemic to forest and plantations in Sumatra in Indonesia.

Sumatran Leafbird Chloropsis media

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Phyllornis media Bonaparte, 1850, Sumatra. Forms a superspecies with C. aurifrons and was for long considered conspecific, but differs sufficiently, including in development of mask, to warrant species rank. Monotypic.

Sumatran Leafbird Chloropsis media

IUCN Species Status

17-18cm. A yellow-hued leafbird, with very yellow underparts and clear yellow crown. Males have a black mask extending to the lower throat with a vivid purple jawline, while the female completely lacks a mask, has a yellow eyelid rim and has a turquoise jawline flash. Both have electric blue carpal patches

Sumatran Leafbird Chloropsis media

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Yellow-throated Leafbird Chloropsis palawanensis

Species Account

The yellow-throated leafbird (Chloropsis palawanensis) is a species of bird in the Chloropseidae family. It is endemic to the Palawan in the Philippines.

Yellow-throated Leafbird Chloropsis palawanensis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Phyllornis palawanensis Sharpe, 1876, Palawan, Philippines. Probably forms a superspecies with C. cochinchinensis, C. jerdoni and C. kinabaluensis. Monotypic.

Yellow-throated Leafbird Chloropsis palawanensis

BirdLife Species Account

Yellow-throated Leafbird Chloropsis palawanensis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 11