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Silver-eared Mesia - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by arjacee
Malaysia, March 2012

Alternative names: Silver-eared Leiothrix; Silver-ear

Leiothrix argentauris

Mesia argentauris


18cm. Black cap contrasting sharply with bright yellow bill and silvery white ear coverts diagnostic. Upperparts olive-grey with red wingspatches, underparts yellow.
Male: Upper and undertail coverts red.
Female: Uppertail coverts dull orange-yellow.

A very popular cage-bird.


The Himalayas through South-East Asia and the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra.
Common in parts of its range and present in many national parcs.1

Left a female, right a male
Photo by Peter Ericsson
Fraser's Hill, Malaysia, August 2006


Clements2 accepts ten subspecies:

The Handbook of the Birds of the World1 includes aureigularis and vernayi in argentauris. Furthermore rubrogularis is included in ricketti. The species is also placed in the monotypic genus Mesia.


Found in bushes, undergrowth and lower storey of forest, forest edge, secondary growth, scrub, tea plantations, bamboo and abandoned plantations. Usually between 600 and 2100m. 1


Feeds on insects including their larvae and small fruits, berries and seeds.
Outside breeding season found in groups of 5 to 30 birds, often associating with other species in birdwaves. Moves through the under brush but sometimes also seen 4 - 5 m up in the canopy.
Breeding season from November to August (starting in April in northern part of distribution). The nest, built by both sexes, is a deep cup made of dead bamboo and other leaves. It's placed in a bush, usually very near the ground but also up to 2m. It's said to be indistinguishable from the nest of Red-billed Leiothrix. Lays 2 - 5 eggs.
Resident species with some altitudinal movements.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. Rasmussen, P. C. and Anderton, J. C. 2005. Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Washington and Barcelona. Smithsonian Institute and Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-67-9

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