Summer is just starting and this bird has us wishing autumn was already here. The silver-eared mesia (Leiothrix argentauris) is a beautiful bird blessed with a plethora of stunning colors. It’s a songbird of the babbler family called Timaliidae and can be found in several countries across Asia.
This colorful bird is named for the unique silver patches around its ears, although the entire body is highlighted with a range of lovely autumnal hues. With a tiny black face, that contrasts sharply with its silver ears, gray tail, yellow feathers, bright red wing patch, yellow wings, gray wingtips, and the sweetest olive-green back, this bird is one of nature’s most adorable designs (and yes, that was a mouthful) .
It’s also one of the few bird species where there’s not much of a distinction between the males and females. The most obvious difference is that the males have red-orange throats while the females have a yellow color.
With an adult size of about 15.5–17 cm (6.1-6.7 in) and an average weight of 22–29g (0.75-1oz), these birds are extremely tiny and not always that obvious – despite the barrage of colors. Thankfully, they travel in noisy flocks and often prefer cool, moist typical climates. While mostly found in Hong Kong and Pakistan, they can also be found year-round in gardens and bushes in Southern China, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Malaysia.
These birds may be noisy but they beautifully so. They travel in groups of 6 to 30 and have a characteristic sweet, whistling song that’s often belted out in relaxing tunes. For this reason, along with their adorable colors, these birds are subject to relentless poaching in the area and are usually kept as cage birds. However, the bird is currently categorized as “least concern” on the IUCN red list, but they still need to be protected and regulated .
Experts believe there are about 7 subspecies under the argentauris species since color patterns tend to shift and change in ratios.
The females lay a clutch of four eggs at once in a tiny cup-shaped nest. Their diet consists mostly of insects, seeds, and fruits, and they can often be found poking under nests and leaves searching for critters and fallen berries. Despite being somewhat social, the birds are not always that easy to spot. Local resorts and gardens appreciate the burst of cheerful color they add to the scenery, so they would often leave out feeders with the birds’ favorite snacks at strategic locations to attract them and other local species.
- Amy Pilkington. The Silver-Eared Mesia Is A Riot Of Autumnal Colors. Diply. https://crafty.diply.com/132777/the-silver-eared-mesia-is-a-riot-of-autumnal-colors Retrieved 13-06-2020
- Silver-eared Mesia. IUCN. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/103878477/94498105 Retrieved 13-06-2020
- Mesia. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/animal/mesia Retrieved 13-06-2020