Mesia bird

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The Silver-eared Mesia is a Babbler under its own grouping Leiothrixes. Under this small group, there are only 2 birds -Silver-eared and the Red-billed. Both equally popular among breeders with the latter better known as the Peking Robin.

The Silver-eared Mesia is a local resident in the foothills of the Himalayas. With its preference for cool climate, it is also a resident of the sub-montane forest of Peninsula Malaysia. In fact the Silver-eared Mesia is the icon for the Frasers Hills. Like the residents in all other countries of Western China, Indochina and Sumatra, this Mesia live in bushes of forest edge. The stable food for the bird is insect but it does wait for certain berries of the under growth.

The bird travels in group together with bird waves or just by themselves. Their presence in the area is alerted by the loud call of the male otherwise most times, soft murmuring whisper as long as they are around.

The Peking Robin is an inexpensive and easier to breed bird when compared with the Silver-eared Mesia, I would say less beautiful too. Since we have the Silver-eared Mesia in the wild and plenty of it, let's enjoy watching the birds in freedom.

In most of the hill stations in Malaysia, you need not search or wait long, the bird will make its appearance. Of course, certain season, the birds are more readily available in greater numbers. In other times, frequency of meeting up are further apart and also less birds seen.


1. Silver-eared Mesia Leiothrix argentauris tabanensis


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 18 Cm. If you are in the sub-montane area, chances of meeting up with bird is more than good. Before seeing the bird, the bird calls from the group will signal their closeness. This bird actually looks so much like a large Babbler. The upper part has a variety of colors. Dull olive back wings in red and Silver. There is the black head and large silver patch on the ear. The under part is yellow. The throat and the patch behind the head is orange yellow followed by a grey back ending in bright orange red before the tail.  prominent too would be orange-yellow flight feathers with a red base. It's too colorful a bird to describe.

 Distribution :-  Found at the foothills of south eastern Himalayas, like North-eastern India, south-western China and then Sumatra in the tropical areas.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the sub-montane forest areas.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird was seen as a common bird in Frasers Hills, but in other sub-montane climate like Awana and Genting Highlands, the numbers and frequency of meeting up is less.
Record of bird's call :-    and Videos  

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 My personal jottings on this Silver-eared Mesia:-

The garden areas in this resorts hills were undoubtedly the home for Mesias. Here the bird would gather in flocks of 6-8 birds to enjoy the breakfast offered by the hotels, thereafter off to forage the low scrubs and bushes. Mesia would join other birds in a bird wave or quite often they by themselves was already a formidable forces. Rarely would see a single Mesia joining up with other birds.

In other places such as Awana and the Old Pump House Road, the situation was different. In these places the lone Mesia would be hunting alone or part of the bird wave. Of course there were also times when 2-3 Mesias gathered in group. Such incidences were low and the main point is, the birds has not bred so well in these places when compared with Frasers Hills.


Bird life in Frasers Hills has dropped dramatically and not surprising too that we do not get to see the Mesia as often as before. The old scene of the Mesia hunting in large group remains unchanged. The groups were getting smaller in numbers, example - around 4-5 birds and these groups are not met up so often as well, In a 6 hours biding trip, I would be glad to meet up with the bird wave at least once. There were trip when I did not encounter a single gathering.