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Red-billed Leiothrix

From Opus

Male, subspecies kumaiensisPhoto © by Alok TewariSat Tal Forest, Alt. 5000 ft., Uttarakhand Himalayas, India, October-2018
Male, subspecies kumaiensis
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Sat Tal Forest, Alt. 5000 ft., Uttarakhand Himalayas, India, October-2018

Alternative names: Pekin Robin; Peking Robin; Red-billed Mesia

Leiothrix lutea


[edit] Identification

Female, subspecies kumaiensisPhoto © by Vipul RamanujSattal, Uttarakhand, India, May 2015
Female, subspecies kumaiensis
Photo © by Vipul Ramanuj
Sattal, Uttarakhand, India, May 2015

14 - 15cm (5½-6 in), A small compact and unmistakable Babbler3:

  • Mostly greyish-olive
  • Short red bill with dark base
  • Pale face and lores is yellowish buff in most subspecies
  • Yellow throat
  • Notched black tail with flared tips
  • Uppertail coverts long, white-tipped
  • Variable yellow or orange markings on wings

Female: more greenish-brown, greyer ear-coverts, weaker submoustachial stripe, paler below. Immature is similar to female but with less vibrant colours including a less red bill.

[edit] Variations

Ssp. calipygaPhoto © by Yeshey DorjiTaba, Thimphu, Western Bhutan, May 2000
Ssp. calipyga
Photo © by Yeshey Dorji
Taba, Thimphu, Western Bhutan, May 2000
  • kumaiensis: has a greener crown with less of a yellowish wash than nominate. Wing-patches consists of orange-red distal outer fringes of inner primaries and an orange patch at base of the secondaries
  • calipyga is similar to kumaiensis but yellower above, with orange-red fringes of inner primaries extending the entire length of the feathers
  • yunnanensis is similar to kumaiensis above but overall paler, with lores and ocular area are whitish; chin to breast is paler and the wing lacks red or orange colouring
  • kwangtungensis: similar to nominate, but yellower on nape, crown, face, sides of neck and underparts. Rear end of upperparts are more olive-toned. Wing markings consists of an orange patch at base of secondaries
  • lutea: this, the nominate form, has yellowish-buff face, wings with a large chestnut-red basal patch on primaries and yellow to orange yellow edgings on the rest of the primaries, as well as a small yellow area at the base of the secondaries

[edit] Distribution

Photo © by alibennHubei, China, March 2004
Photo © by alibenn
Hubei, China, March 2004

Found in the Himalayas, N Burma, N Vietnam and S, SC and E China.
Common in parts of its range, but scarce and declining in others due to heavy trading as cagebirds.
Introduced populations on the Hawaiian Islands, where it exhibits dramatic and unexplained population fluctuations. There are small but thriving populations of escapees in Japan since the 1980s. Furthermore small populations got established in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and on Reunion Island.1

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Clements2 accepts six subspecies:

  • L. l. kumaiensis in the North West Himalayas (North East Pakistan to North India)
  • L. l. calipyga Himalayas from West Nepal over Sikkim, Bhutan and Assam to adjacent South East Tibet
  • L. l. luteola from South Assam to South West Burma
  • L. l. yunnanensis from North East Burma to South China (Yunnan)
  • L. l. kwangtungensis in South and South East China (South East Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan and Guangdong) and North Vietnam
  • L. l. lutea in South-central and East China (Gansu, Shaanxi, Hubei, Anhui, Zhejiang, Fujian, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi)

The Handbook of the World1 however doesn't accept luteola and includes it in calipyga. Furthermore the Doubtful Leiothrix L. (l.) astleyi, known from a pair of birds shipped from S China is now considered to represent mutated cagebirds.

[edit] Habitat

Undergrowth of open broadleaf forest, mixed forest, forest edge, secondary growth, scurb, tea plantations, abandoned cultivation. Primarly between 900 and 2400m.1

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Feeds on insects but takes also berries and fruit.
During the breeding season in pairs, outside in groups of 4 - 6 individuals (bigger groups possible), often associating with other species in birdwaves.

[edit] Breeding

Breeding season generally from April to October, varying through range. The nest is an oval cup, built by the female with grasses, dead bamboo and other leaves. It's placed in bush or bamboo, close to the ground (0.6 to 1.5m). Lays 3 - 5 eggs, the incubation period is 11 - 14 days.

[edit] Movements

Resident species with some altitudinal movement in the Himalayas.1

[edit] References

  1. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553422
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  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
  4. Birdforum thread discussing presence in Europe (post 36 and those following)
  5. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Nov 2017 and Apr 2018)
  6. Craig Robson Field guide to the birds of SE Asia
  7. Birdforum thread discussing ID of females and subspecies

[edit] External Links


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