Species: C. saularis
Binomial name Copsychus saularis
Main features: Large (20-23cm); bill black; legs grey.
Male: Black head, breast and upperparts; underparts white; tail black with white outer feathers; bold white wingbars.
Female: Back upperparts and breast replaced by dull dark grey.
Juvenile: As in the adult but with mottled brown breast
Call: Described as a melodious song; a mournful rising whistle; and harsh raspy alarm note.
The Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, family Muscicapidae. It is also known as Oriental Magpie Robin, Straits Robin and Magpie.
This magpie-robin is an insectivorous species which is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka east to Indonesia, south China and the Philippines.
The Oriental Magpie Robin is found in open woodland, cultivated areas and around human habitation. It nests in a hole, often in a wall, laying 3-6 eggs which are incubated by both sexes.
This species is 19cm long, including the long cocked tail. It is similar in shape to the smaller European Robin, but is longer-tailed. The male has black upperparts, head and throat apart from a white shoulder patch. The underparts and the sides of the long tail are white. Females are grey above and greyish white. Young birds have scaly brown upperparts and head.
The Oriental Magpie Robin is a common and tame bird. It is terrestrial, hopping along the ground with cocked tail. The male sings loud melodic notes from the top of a perch during the breeding season.
This is a native species in Singapore, where it is known by the Malay names Kampung/Cerang. Once very common in the 1920s, it was pushed to near extinction by the 1970s, largely due to the introduction of mynahs, illegal poaching, and the disappearance of its natural habitat in the face of rapid urbanisation. Attempts to reintroduce the bird were conducted in the 1980s, but the species remains vulnerable and hence protected by law.
The Magpie Robin’s sad story is a parable of near extinction in Singapore. Magpie Robins were once widespread and common in Singapore, as they still are in Peninsular Malaysia. But they were nearly wiped out in Singapore. Happily, they have made a slow comeback through reintroduction efforts, although their status remains vulnerable (see details below). Sungei Buloh Nature Park is among the few strongholds on the main island for this delightful bird.
Magpie Robins have a varied diet of fruits and animals but are particularly fond of insects and worms. They forage in trees as well as on the ground, where they hop with their tail raised. They also sip nectar.
They prefer open areas such as mangroves, gardens, cultivated areas. They are not found in the deep forest.
Magpie Robins have a delightful varied song and are said to be able to imitate the calls of other birds. They are sprightly and lively, often cocking their long tails. They are easy to spot as they are not shy and sing from exposed perches. Sometimes, they may abruptly sing in at night!
Breeding: Magpie Robins breed in January to June. Males court females with hearty song, usually at dawn and dusk, moving their tails up and down in tune. They can be very territorial during breeding. They build their nests almost anywhere from thick shrubs, in the fork of branches of small trees, palms (at the base of the palm frond), hollow trees and even near human habitation: under a veranda, in a hole in the wall, in an old tin can, and in stables. Nests are usually built low. Their nests are large, untidy, shallow cups loosely made from grass or dried leaves, twigs, moss, roots. These are lined with fibres or grass. 3-5 eggs are laid, pale blue or greenish with brown or purple spots. The female incubates, but both raise the young.
I met these birds in some countries, Hongkong, Thailand, China, Indonesia and Singapore.
Those photos above I took in Botanical garden singapore on July 2008. They called each others with nice songs, enjoy walking and sitting there with their songs.
Location: Cluny Road Singapore 259569
Tel: (65) 6471 7361
To go to Botanical garden, you can take MRT to Orchard(NS22) along Orchard Boulevard, take SBS bus 7, 105, 106, 123 or 174
Photo Gallery: Oriental Magpie Robin