The ioras are a small family, Aegithinidae, of four passerine bird species found in south and southeast Asia. The family is composed of a single genus, Aegithina. They were formerly grouped with the leafbirds and fairy-bluebirds, in the family Irenidae.

For the international organization, see Indian Ocean Rim Association
For the Australian Aboriginal people of the Sydney region, see Eora

Common iora (Aegithina tiphia)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Aegithinidae
G. R. Gray, 1869
Genus: Aegithina
Vieillot, 1816

See text

Taxonomy and systematics

The common iora was the first species of iora described, in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus, but there was a lot of confusion about the nature of bird Linnaeus was referring to when he described as Motacilla Tiphia. Early taxonomists considered it to variously be a warbler, flycatcher, finch or babbler. When G. R. Gray erected the family Aegithinidae in 1869 he included a number of babbler genera in it with the ioras. Edward Blyth, working in the 1850s, was the first to connect the ioras with the leafbirds and fairy-bluebirds, and included all these with the bulbuls.[1]

Species of Aegithinidae

ImageCommon NameScientific nameDistribution
Common ioraAegithina tiphiatropical Indian subcontinent
Marshall's ioraAegithina nigroluteaIndia and Sri Lanka.
Green ioraAegithina viridissimaThai-Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo
Great ioraAegithina lafresnayeiCambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.


The ioras are small to medium small sized passerines, ranging from 11.5 to 15.5 cm (4.5–6.1 in) in length. Overall the males are larger than the females.[2] 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.[3][4]

Habitat and distribution

Their habitats include acacia scrub, forest edge, and closed forests, as well as agricultural land and (in the common iora) gardens.[3] They are generally 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. 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.[2]

Behaviour and ecology

Ioras eat insects and spiders, which they find by nimbly gleaning the leaves of the slenderest outer twigs.[3]

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.[3] Both parents are responsible for brooding and feeding the chicks.[2]

Relationship with humans

Ioras will commonly live close to humans and even lives in the suburbs of cites like Singapore. They are mostly not threatened by human activities, although the green iora is listed as near threatened by the IUCN, habitat loss being responsible for its decline. Unlike many other passerines they are not common species in the cage bird trade.


  1. Wells, D (2018). del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Sargatal, Jordi; Christie, David A; de Juana, Eduardo (eds.). "Ioras (Aegithinidae)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  2. Wells, David (2005), "Family Aegithinidae (Ioras)", in del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David (eds.), Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 10, Cuckoo-shrikes to Thrushes, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 278–290, ISBN 84-87334-72-5
  3. Mead, Christopher J.; Wells, D. R. (2003). "Ioras". In Perrins, Christopher (ed.). The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. p. 507. ISBN 1-55297-777-3.
  4. Hume, AO (1877). "Remarks on the genus Iora". Stray Feathers. 5: 420–452.
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