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The sexes are similar in appearance, but the female has a narrow silver band across the upper breast. Juveniles resemble adults, but have shorter wings and tail and somewhat darker plumage. Silver-breasted Broadbills are generally silent, with calls heard mainly around the nest. Robson (2005) describes the voice as a melancholy “pee-uu” (uu lower pitch) and a staccato trilled “kitikitiki".
The diet consists of invertebrates, mainly insects. Birds forage in pairs or in groups of up to 20 (usually fewer) and may join mixed flocks foraging in the understory. The nest, built by both sexes (sometimes with helpers), is a pendant ball with a long loose “tail”; construction takes 5 to 10 days. The nest is typically placed 1 to 7 (usually 3 to 5) m high over open spaces such as roads or small streams. Clutch size is 2 to 7 eggs, usually 4 to 5 but reportedly 2 to 3 in peninsular Malaysia. Both sexes, sometimes with helpers, incubate eggs and feed chicks. The Silver-breasted Broadbill is a documented cuckoo host in southern Burma and Sumatra.
This species is a year-round resident over most of its range, but is apparently an altitudinal migrant in the Himalayas. It was formerly very common over most of its range, but is now only locally common. It has not been recorded from Nepal since the 19th century and is rare and local in Bhutan. Populations are probably much much reduced from northeastern India to Burma. It is uncommon in northern Thailand, but fairly common in other parts of the country, where it still supplies the domestic cagebird market. Populations have significantly declined in Indochina, although the species is still being discovered in new localities. It is very rare in China and uncommon to locally common in the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. Robson (2005) reported the geographic abundance of this species as uncommon to locally common in Southeast Asia with the exception of central Thailand, Singapore, and Cochinchina (=the southern third of Vietnam).
(Bruce 2003 and references therein; Robson 2005)