“Silver-eared Mesias (Leiothrix argentauris tahanensis) are a social and community focused species and often seen in small groups. They are very fast-moving birds in the highlands with loud advertising/contact calls. They are common in mixed foraging parties and I consider them the ‘leaders’ of such events.
“I had an opportunity to observe social behaviour today when 4 of a party of 6-8 birds alighted on a branch near me. The first 2 to land were an adult female and male (above, male on right). The male then proceeded to puff up the neck and head feathers and arch over – I have more images of the bird bowing down in this attitude.
“The adult female had also fluffed up and assumed a similar posture to the adult male, although not as aggressively. Two other birds joined them, an immature male and immature female (above, immature male 3rd from left, immature female 4th from left).
“The immature male responded to the behaviour by allopreening the adult male (above, below). I was not able to find any information on allopreening in this species. Allopreening in birds often occurs between breeding partners. Here it was between an immature male and an adult male. I have often wondered if the social groups we see in Silver-eared Mesias are actually family groups, especially now in view of my recent observation of the use of nest helpers. Perhaps the adult behaviour seen of fluffing up the feathers and arching is a signal for the first year young from that family to preen the adult. Hence allopreening may serve to enhance social bonding and dominance of the adults?
“Would value view points and other interpretations of this social behaviour.
Note: In the image above, it appears as if the adult male (2nd from left) is also allopreening the adult female (1st from left). But this is just an ‘overlap’ in the image and no actual preening took place.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
13th June 2018
Location: 1,600-1,700m ASL, Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia
Habitat: Trail through primary jungle