The Mystery Bird “Yellow-Billed Oxpecker”

The yellow-billed oxpecker “Buphagus africanus” is a beautiful passerine bird in the starling and myna family, Sturnidae. The name “oxpecker” is related to their habit of perching on large wild and domestic mammals. The yellow-billed oxpecker is 20 cm long and has plain brown upperparts and head, buff underparts and a pale rump. In a day an adult bird will take more than 100 engorged female Boophilus decoloratus ticks or 13,000 larvae. It frequently occurs in association with wild and domestic large mammals. The species often roosts in trees close to these animals, or even on buffaloes’ back at night. The Yellow-billed oxpeckers live in small flocks and can be found at sea-level or in mountains as high as 9,800 feet. These African mystery birds are engaged in a rare behavior, even nesting on the back of a live Cape buffalo.
Some ornithologists regard the oxpeckers to be a separate family, the Buphagidae. It is least common in the extreme east of its range where it overlaps with the r…

The Silver-eared Mesia (Leiothrix argentauris)

The Silver-eared Mesia (Leiothrix argentauris) was once placed in the large Old World babbler family Timaliidae. However this family has been split with this species being placed with the laughingthrushes in the new family Leiothrichidae. There’re 7 described subspecies, with considerable variation in plumage between them. Hence, more research is required to establish if this represents a single species or not. Though, this species is sometimes placed in its own genus Mesia, or in the genus Leiothrix with the red-billed leiothrix. The bird is usually resident although it has been reported as a winter migrant to Nameri National Park in Assam, India, which implies that the species may be an altitudinal migrant.

The species has been introduced to Hong Kong from captive stock derived from caged birds. The bird’s upper part has a multicolor, but 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. Moreover, throat and the patch behind the head is orange yellow followed by a grey back ending in bright orange red before the tail. The prominent colors are orange-yellow flight feathers with a red base. The silver-eared Mesia is a seasonal breeder, lasting from Nov to Aug. Both male and female are participate in building the nest, takes about 4 days to build and is placed near ground level or up to 2m up in a bush. The two to five eggs normally are white with light but rich madder-brown spots. Both parents incubate the eggs, with the female incubating the eggs during the night. In fact the eggs are incubated for 13 to 14 days and both male and female feed the chicks, which fledge after 12 days, and parental care lasts for a further 22 days after fledging.

The eye-catching Silver-eared Mesia is a local resident in the foothills of the Himalayas. The birds like cool climate, but it is also a resident of the sub-montane forest of Peninsula Malaysia. Nevertheless the Silver-eared Mesia is the icon for the Frasers Hills. Like the residents in all other countries of Western China, Indochina and Sumatra. The beautiful multicolor Mesia live in bushes of forest edge. The Mesia food is insect but it does wait for definite berries of the under growth. Moreover, the bird like to 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 whispers as long as they are around. In most of the hill stations in Malaysia, you need not search or wait long; the bird will make its appearance. Therefore, in a certain season, the birds are more readily available in large numbers. However, in other times, frequency of meeting up is further apart and also less birds seen. So far Silver-eared Mesia in a large numbers in the wild and plenty of it, let's enjoy watching the birds in freedom. In Malaysia, you need not search or wait long; the bird will make its appearance.

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