White-tailed Iora Aegithina nigrolutea

Prasad Ganpule
Version: 2.0 — Published October 22, 2020

Diet and Foraging

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Diet and Foraging

Diet consists of arthropods, including insect imagoes and larvae.


Main Foods Taken

Mainly insects, including insect larvae and imagoes (3). Insects taken include moths, termites, grasshoppers, and mantids, as well as green and hairy caterpillars (27). Spiders and other arthropods are also taken (PG).

Microhabitat for Foraging

Forages in both trees and shrubs, usually singly or in pairs. It probes into flowers and also searches for prey on dried bark, twigs, and on tree branches. Frequently forages among green and dried leaves. Often seen on entirely dry trees or shrubs, where its black-and-yellow plumage boldly stands out against the dull brown and gray branches [ ]. Feeds in the same patch for some time, carefully looking at leaves and probing trunks of shrubs for insects. Moves into another similar patch by a short flight, often accompanied by short vocalizations. Though seen feeding in shrubs of around 0.5-1 m in height, not seen taking prey from the ground in over ten hours of observation in western India (Gujarat), and appears to exclusively feed on trees and shrubs, but more data required (PG).

Food Capture and Consumption

In Sri Lanka, it uses several feeding techniques (26). In one study, gleaning was the predominant technique, picking food items while perched on outermost twigs of tree crowns and shrubs. The birds searched various micro sites including surfaces of twigs, forks, leaves, leaf axils, and flower axils. From time to time, food was searched for and picked by hanging head down or sideways. The second most frequent feeding technique was flower probing, at least at the time of year when trees were in flower. Probing for insects was another technique that was used mostly when feeding among flowers or dry leaves. The other techniques used included hover-picking (e.g., picking food from surface while hovering), and flycatching (e.g., catching prey in flight by pursuit). The food finding rate (not necessarily the feeding rate) varied considerably; a male was observed feeding on three food items within the span of 3 minutes when it was located in the activity center of its territory. On another occasion however, the same male found only one item in 14 minutes of foraging (26).

Feeding techniques and food finding rates were similar in western India (Gujarat; PG). Birds were often attracted to dry and gnarled leaves. It frequently hung upside-down, searching for prey in leaves and branches. In particular, they frequently searched flowers and seed pods of Prosopis juliflora and Acacia for prey [ ]. When foraging, moved from branch to branch of a tree, carefully scanning leaves and branches for prey items. After searching a tree, moved to a nearby tree and starts searching. Usually foraged singly or in pairs. In the non-breeding season, seen in small groups of 4-6 individuals, moving from tree to tree, feeding and foraging and uttering short calls. In the non-breeding season, may join mixed hunting flocks (PG).

Food Selection and Storage

No information available.

Nutrition and Energetics

No information available.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

In the hot summer months in Gujarat in western India, panting has been observed (PG); during panting, the beak is kept open. In the winter months, observed roosting/sleeping at night with feathers raised (fluffed up plumage; PG). This increases the insulation provided by the feathers and presumably helps in temperature regulation in cold winter nights (28).

Drinking, Pellet-Casting, and Defecation


No information about frequency of drinking.


Not observed pellet-casting.


Defecates while feeding and foraging. Frequency not known.

Recommended Citation

Ganpule, P. (2020). White-tailed Iora (Aegithina nigrolutea), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.whtior1.02