IORAS Aegithinidae The Ioras are a small group of arboreal passerines found throughout tropical Asia. All four species are fairly widespread (and all are in the same genus Aegithina). Certainly the most often seen is the Common Iora (left). It is found from the Indian subcontinent to Palawan (Philippines) and the Greater Sundas. Ioras tend to forage alone in the subcanopy, often eating berries and fruit and well as insect prey. I was reminded of minature New World orioles.

Traditionally considered related to the babblers (Timaliidae) but having some characters of drongos (Dicruridae; Austin & Singer 1961), biochemical studes suggested closer relationships to the Muscicapidae. In fact, Sibley & Monroe (1990) threw them into the dumping ground those authors called the Muscicapidae (as a subfamily near the monarch-flycatchers). Taxonomic relationships of these Asian families remain uncertain and controversial. I do not understand, for example, why the Handbook of the Birds of the World project separates this as a family, and splits off as another family the fairy-bluebirds and, as yet another, the leafbirds. This excessive family-splitting seems odd when they refused to split up the barbets (into three) or the kingfishers (into three), each of which recent proposal is supported by biochemical analysis. But knowing very little about these problems, I've just followed suit.

Photos: The Common Iora Aegithina tiphia (top) was photographed at Baluran National Park, east Java, Indonesia, on 15 Sep 1988. Photo D. Roberson.

Bibliographic note

There is no family book as yet, nor much written about this group at all.

Other literature cited:

Austin, O. L., and A. Singer. 1961. Birds of the World. Edited by H. S. Zim. Golden Press, New York.

Sibley, C. G., and B. L. Monroe, Jr. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, CT.