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Malia - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Rob Hutchinson
Gunang Ambang, Sulawesi, Indonesia, August 2007.

Alternative names: Celebes Malia; Sulawesi Malia; Malia Babbler

Malia grata


With 28cm a large, thrush-like Babbler:1

  • Dull olive green above, bright greenish-yellow below
  • Bill slightly curved, upper mandible blackish, lower mandible yellowish
  • Legs greenish-brown
  • Nominate with green-tinged greyish-brown upperwing and tail
  • Recondita with more greenish-tinged upperwing and tail and smaller bill
  • Stresemanni with rufous-tinged upperwing and tail, also smaller bill
  • The sexes are similar, juveniles have not been described yet


Sulawesi endemic. South East Asia: Indonesia: Greater Sundas. Despite the restricted range, the species seems not in danger and the population, although not quantified, seems to be large.3 It's widespread and fairly common. Places to see this species are Gunung Ambang Nature Reserve, Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park or Lore Lindu National Park.1


Like other species placed in the family Timaliidae, the relationship of this bird is poorly known and it's not even sure if it's a Babbler at all. It has also been treated as an aberrant Bulbul. More study is needed1. A recent paper places this species in Locustellidae4.
Three subspecies are usually recognized:1,2


Prefers primary montane forests and mossy ridgetop forest, usually between 900 and 2400m. Sometimes also in disturbed forest.1


It feeds on invertebrates, mainly beetles and grasshoppers. The bill is used to search for food in rotten wood, loose bark and moss. Malias are usually encountered in small groups of 3 to 7 birds or in pairs. They are generally found in so-called bird-waves, including Sulawesi Drongo, Sulawesi Fantail, Yellow-billed Malkoha and Sulawesi Leaf Warbler. Sometimes they also search for food close to Sulawesi Dwarf Squirrels and Whitish Dwarf Squirrels. When foraging, the birds are calling often.1
Nothing is known about breeding.1
Resident, no movements known.1


  1. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Christie, D.A. eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 12. Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-96553-42-6
  2. Clements James F. 2007. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2007. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801445019
  3. BirdLife International. 2008. Species factsheet: Malia grata. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 4/8/2008
  4. Birdforum thread discussing a number of species including this (post 26)

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