Marshall’s Iora (Aegithina nigrolutea) – recently called White-tailed Iora – is endemic to the Indian Subcontinent, where it prefers lowland thorn scrub and tree groves. It is closely related to the Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) and the two were previously considered conspecific. In Sri Lanka I had the opportunity to observe a male neaer the Weheragala Reservoir in the Yala National Park that only needs to be agitated slightly. Then the bird stands on the dry branches of a bare tree. After a short time it changes to a bush with lush green leaves. A little later, the bird decides again for the lower, more stable branches of the bare tree. After a while, the bird begins to take the rival male seriously. The wings are stretched and the beautiful white stripes come into their own. Then it comes down so far that I can photograph the male at eye level in a tree that looks like a black locust. From time to time the white-tailed iora sings. Finally, the male of the White-tailed Iora begins to search leaves and branches for food at a short distance; possibly as a skipping act. The whole performance has now lasted more than half an hour. Very remarkable. This is the only place far and wide to reliably see the Marshall’s Iora / White-tailed Iora in Sri Lanka, as my guide emphazises.
Marshall’s Iora is not a well-studied species, and it is suspected to be under pressure owing to destruction of its habitat, especially due to cutting down of scrub forests. Although it is treated in literature as Continue reading Marshall’s Iora in Sri Lanka