Frugivory by the Common Iora

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“I was away helping with postgraduate training and took the opportunity to visit a nearby forest. Unfortunately it rained for hours and I decided to do a long forest walk. I had brief, ‘drier’ opportunities to watch birds.

IoraC-fruit [AmarSingh] 1

“I was surprised to see a pair of Common Ioras (Aegithina tiphia horizoptera) feeding on fruit. Light was poor and some rain persisted but I managed a few images (above, below).

IoraC-fruit [AmarSingh] 2

“They took quite a number of these small fruit which is a favourite of many birds especially the leafbirds and bulbuls (name of tree unknown). On this occasion there were sunbirds, bulbuls and other birds feeding.

“I have watched Common Ioras most of my life and their prey is predominantly insects like grasshopper, praying mantis, aphids, beetles, bees, caterpillars and small worms. I have never before seen them take fruit. I suspect it is a rare event and that the prolonged rain had made the birds more ‘desperate’ for nutrition.

“Robinson HC (1927) Birds of the Malay Peninsula Volume I. H.F. & G. Witherby, London describes the Common Iora as ‘… is mainly insectivorous, though it certainly occasionally eats fruits and berries, especially those of the mistletoe’ but this has never been confirmed in the past.

“Wells, D. (2017) on the Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona quotes ‘rumoured to take small fruits, but this unconfirmed’.

“This is possibly the first image documentation of this activity.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
2nd August 2017

Location: Manjung, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Fringe of mixed secondary & primary jungle

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