Aegithinidae – Ioras

Marshall's Iora Aegithina nigrolutea ©Glen Valentine Website

The ioras Aegithinidae are a small family of four passerine bird species found in Pakistan and southeast Asia. They are one of only three bird families that are entirely endemic to the Indo-malayan ecozone. They were formerly grouped with the other two of those groups, the leafbirds and fairy-bluebirds, in Irenidae.

They are small to medium small sized passerines, ranging from 11.5 to 15.5 cm in length. Overall the males are larger than the females. These are reminiscent of the bulbuls, but whereas that group tends to be drab in colouration, the ioras are more brightly coloured. The group exhibits sexual dimorphism in its plumage, with the males being brightly plumaged in yellows and greens. Unlike the leafbirds, ioras have thin legs, and their bills are proportionately longer. Calls are strident whistles; songs are musical to human ears.

Their habitats include acacia scrub, forest edge, and closed forests, as well as agricultural land and (in the common iora) gardens. They are mostly lowland birds, with most reaching only as high as the submontane forests. They are generally highly arboreal and usually occur in the tree canopy, with only very rare records of this family coming down to the ground. Ioras eat insects and spiders, which they find by nimbly gleaning the leaves of the slenderest outer twigs. The family is overwhelmingly non-migratory, although in West India there is some evidence that Marshall’s Ioras and Common Ioras are partly migratory in the seasonal semi-desert fringe.

In the two species whose male courtship displays are known, they are elaborate, culminating in the males’ parachute-style descent looking like green balls of fluff. The nests are compact open cups felted to branches with spiderweb. Females lay 2 or 3 eggs, which have pinkish speckles and red and purple lines. They incubate at night; the males, by day. Incubation lasts about 14 days. Both parents share responsibility for brooding and feeding.

There are just four species in this family, which are:

Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
Marshall’s Iora Aegithina nigrolutea
Green Iora Aegithina viridissima
Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei

Species Links
  • Common Iora Aegithina tiphia

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Common Iora Aegithina tiphia

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Common Iora Aegithina tiphia

    Species Account
    The common iora (Aegithina tiphia) is a small passerine bird found across the tropical Indian subcontinent with populations showing plumage variations, some of which are designated as subspecies.
  • Common Iora Aegithina tiphia

    HBW Species Account
  • Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Iora Lafresnayei Hartlaub, 1844, Melaka, Peninsular Malaysia. Race innotata intergrades with nominate in Malay Peninsula. Three subspecies recognized.
  • Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei

    IUCN Species Status
    his species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion.
  • Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei

    Species Account
    The great iora (Aegithina lafresnayei) is a species of bird in the Aegithinidae family. It is found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
  • Green Iora Aegithina viridissima

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Green Iora Aegithina viridissima

    Species Account
    The green iora (Aegithina viridissima) is a species of bird in the Aegithinidae family. It is found in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand.
  • Green Iora Aegithina viridissima

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Green Iora Aegithina viridissima

    IUCN Species Status
    Aegithina viridissima is restricted to the Sundaic lowlands, where it occurs from south Tenasserim, Myanmar, peninsular Thailand, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, Kalimantan (including Natuna Islands) and Sumatra (including offshore islands), Indonesia and Brunei (BirdLife International 2001). It is locally fairly common to common within this range.
  • Green Iora Aegithina viridissima

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Iora viridissima Bonaparte, 1850, Sumatra. Population of Batu Is (off W Sumatra) named as race nesiotis, but considered inseparable from nominate. Taxonomic status of N Natuna Is (S China Sea) population yet to be resolved; currently included in nominate, but further study needed. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Marshall's Iora Aegithina nigrolutea

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Marshall's Iora Aegithina nigrolutea

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Iora nigrolutea G. F. L. Marshall, 1876, Meerut, north-west Uttar Pradesh, India. Has often been treated as conspecific with A. tiphia, but differs in details of morphology, plumage and vocalizations, amongst others. Birds from NW India (Gujarat) described as race sulphurea, but now considered indistinguishable from adjacent populations. Elsewhere in range, some of the size and tonal variation apparent may eventually be recognized taxonomically. Currently treated as monotypic.
  • Marshall's Iora Aegithina nigrolutea

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Marshall's Iora Aegithina nigrolutea

    Species Account
    The white-tailed iora or Marshall's iora (Aegithina nigrolutea),[2] is a songbird in the genus Aegithina found in parts of India and Sri Lanka.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 4

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