Update on Diet and Foraging Behaviour of the White-bellied Erpornis Erpornis zantholeuca

posted in: bird, White-bellied Erpornis | 0
Image 1: White-bellied Erpornis. Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, perak, Malaysia. 21st July 2022.

The White-bellied Erpornis (Erpornis zantholeuca) is not commonly seen and Wells (2017) lists it as “near-threatened bordering on vulnerable” in the peninsular. I see the bird occasionally in the lowland jungle, often with other birds in a mix foraging party. I had an opportunity on 21st July 2022 at the Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, to observe additional foraging activities. This is a brief note to summarise its diet and foraging behaviour. 

Participant in lowland mixed foraging parties (bird waves)

As mentioned, often seen as part of a lowland mixed foraging party (bird wave). The composition of these bird waves I have seen include: 

  • 21st July 2022: 4 birds foraging with 4 Hume’s White-eyes (Zosterops auriventer), 1 Cream-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus simplex) and others.
  • 3rd February 2022: 4-5 birds foraging with 4 Grey-headed Canary-Flycatchers (Culicicapa ceylonensis) and a number of bulbul species.
  • 18th July 2018: 5-7 birds foraging with 1 Purple-naped Sunbird/Spiderhunter (Kurochkinegramma hypogrammicum), mixed-species leafbirds, a number of bulbul species, and others. There were self-feeding juvenile White-bellied Erpornis in the group.
  • 31st July 2014: A number of birds foraging with Green Ioras (Aegithina viridissima), Plain Sunbirds (Anthreptes simplex), Ruby-cheeked Sunbirds (Anthreptes singalensis), various bulbul species, flowerpeckers, and others.
  • 30th April 2012: A number of birds foraging with Velvet-fronted Nuthatchs (Sitta frontalis), Blue-winged Leafbirds (Chloropsis cochinchinensis), Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis), Spectacled Bulbuls (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos), Red-eyed Bulbuls (Pycnonotus brunneus), a Tailorbird (possibly Dark-necked) and others not identified.

Foraging Technique

Their foraging is often ‘acrobatic’, hanging upside down, looking under leaves or slender branches and exploring closed leaves for invertebrate prey. The beak is used to open the curled-up leaves (Amar-Singh HSS 2022a).

Animal / invertebrate is often taken to a branch for processing before eating. The prey is held in one foot and the beak used to manipulate the prey (see Image 1 of a green caterpillar being ‘processed’). 

Diet Personally Observed

Image 2: White-bellied Erpornis with a caterpillar in beak. Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. 21st July 2022.
Image 3: White-bellied Erpornis with an unidentified moth in beak. Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. 21st July 2022.
Image 4: White-bellied Erpornis with a lacewing(?) in beak. Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. 21st July 2022.

Spider (possibly a female Wolf spider) and silk egg sac (Amar-Singh HSS 2022a)

Green caterpillar (see Image 2)

Unidentified Moth (see Image 3)

Unidentified small flying insect (see Image 4, possibly a Lacewing Chrysopa spp.)

Fruit of the Giant Mahang (Macaranga gigantea) (Amar-Singh HSS 2022b)

Other small fruit not identified. 



  1. Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 (Passerines). Christopher Helm, London.
  2. Amar-Singh HSS (2022a). White-bellied Erpornis – spider prey. Bird Ecology Study Group. <https://besgroup.org/2022/03/20/white-bellied-erpornis-spider-prey/>
  3. Amar-Singh HSS (2022b). New species observed feeding on Giant Mahang fruit. Bird Ecology Study Group. <https://besgroup.org/2022/01/20/new-species-observed-feeding-on-giant-mahang-fruit/>


Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

21st July 2022


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