Oriental Magpie-Robin

Copsychus saularis

The Oriental Magpie-Robin is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but now considered an Old World flycatcher. They are distinctive black and white birds with a long tail that is held upright as they forage on the ground or perch conspicuously. Occurring across most of the Indian Subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia, they are common birds in urban gardens as well as forests. They are particularly well known for their songs and were once popular as cagebirds. The Oriental Magpie-Robin is national bird for Bangladesh.
Magpie Robin  Copsychus saularis,Geotagged,India,Oriental Magpie-Robin

Appearance

This species is 19 centimetres long, including the long tail that is usually held cocked upright. 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 greyish black above and greyish white. Young birds have scaly brown upperparts and head. It is the national bird of Bangladesh.

The nominate race is found on the Indian Subcontinent and the females of this race are the palest. The females of the Andamans race ''andamanensis'' are darker, heavier-billed and shorter-tailed. The Sri Lankan race ''ceylonensis'' and southern nominate individuals have the females nearly identical to the males in shade. The eastern populations have more black on the tail and were formerly named ''erimelas''. The populations in Burma and further south are named as race ''musicus''. A number of other races have been named across the range including ''prosthopellus'' , ''nesiotes'', ''zacnecus'', ''nesiarchus'', ''masculus'', ''pagiensis'', ''javensis'', ''problematicus'', ''amoenus'', ''adamsi'', ''pluto'', ''deuteronymus'' and ''mindanensis''. However many of these are not well marked and the status of some are disputed. Some like ''mindanensis'' have been now been recognized usually as full species . There is more geographic variation in the plumage of females than in that of the males.

It is mostly seen close to the ground, hopping along branches or foraging in leaf-litter on the ground with cocked tail. Males sing loudly from the top of trees or other high perches during the breeding season.
Oriental Magpie-Robin                                 Bird,Copsychus saularis,Magpie-Robin,Malaysia,Oriental Magpie-Robin,Sabah,Tawau

Naming

The Indian name of ''dhyal'' or ''dhayal'' has led to many confusions. It was first used by Eleazar Albin in 1737 , and Levaillant thought it referred to a sun dial and he called it ''Cadran''. Thomas C. Jerdon wrote that Linnaeus, thinking it had some connection with a sun-dial, called it ''solaris'', by ''lapsus pennae'', ''saularis.'' This was however identified by Edward Blyth as an incorrect interpretation and that it was a Latinization of the Hindi word ''saulary''. A male bird was sent with this Hindi name from Madras by surgeon Edward Buckley to James Petiver, who first described the species .
Oriental magpie robin from Chiang-Rai Thailand Copsychus saularis,Geotagged,Oriental Magpie-Robin,Thailand,Winter

Distribution

This magpie-robin is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Bangladesh, interior India, Sri Lanka and eastern Pakistan east to Indonesia, Thailand, south China, Malaysia, and Singapore. They have been introduced to Australia.

The Oriental Magpie-Robin is found in open woodland, cultivated areas often close to human habitations.
Oriental Magpie-Robin                                 Copsychus saularis,Geotagged,Oriental Magpie-Robin,Sri Lanka

Status

This species is considered as one of "little concern" globally but in some areas the species is on the decline.

In Singapore and Hong Kong they were common in the 1920s, but declined in the 1970s, presumably due to competition from introduced Common Mynas, Poaching for the pet bird trade and habitat changes have also affected them and they are locally protected by law.

This species has few avian predators. Several pathogens and parasites have been reported. Avian malaria parasites have been isolated from the species while H4N3 and H5N1 infection has been noted in a few cases. Parasitic nematodes of the eye have been described
Oriental Magpie Robin (Female) This was taken in Madikeri (Coorg) Karnataka, India. Copsychus saularis,Geotagged,India,Magpie,Oriental Magpie-Robin,Robin

Behavior

Magpie Robins breed mainly from March to July in India and January to June in south-east Asia. Males sing from high perches during courtship. The display of the male involves puffing up the feathers, raising the bill, fanning the tail and strutting. They nest in tree hollows or niches in walls or building. They are also known to have used artificial nesting areas provided by humans, like Nest boxes. They line the cavity with grass. The female is involved in most of the nest building that happens about a week before the eggs are laid. Four or five eggs are laid in intervals of 24 hours and these are oval and usually pale blue green with brownish speckles which match the color of hay. The eggs are incubated by the female alone for 8 to 14 days. The nests are said to have a characteristic odour.

Females spend more effort on feeding the young than males. Males are quite aggressive in the breeding season and will defend their territory. and respond to the singing of intruders and even their reflections. Males spend more time on nest defense. Studies of the bird song show dialects with neighbours varying in their songs. The calls of many other species may be imitated as part of their song. This may indicate that birds disperse and are not philopatric. They appear to use elements of the calls of other birds in their own songs. Females may sing briefly in the presence of male. Apart from their song, they use a range of calls including territorial calls, emergence and roosting calls, threat calls, submissive calls, begging calls and distress calls. The typical mobbing calls is a harsh hissing ''krshhh''.

The diet of Magpie Robins includes mainly insects and other invertebrates. They usually catch insects in mid-air and take it to a perch to consume it.They often feed in groups of up to 6 members.They also prey on ants by hopping on the ground.These insectivores birds are known to occasionally take geckos, leeches, centipedes and even fish.

They are often active late at dusk. They sometimes bathe in rainwater collected on the leaves of a tree.
Yes! i'm Posing! An oriental magpie robin! Copsychus saularis,Geotagged,India,Oriental Magpie-Robin

Habitat

This magpie-robin is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Bangladesh, interior India, Sri Lanka and eastern Pakistan east to Indonesia, Thailand, south China, Malaysia, and Singapore. They have been introduced to Australia.

The Oriental Magpie-Robin is found in open woodland, cultivated areas often close to human habitations.Magpie Robins breed mainly from March to July in India and January to June in south-east Asia. Males sing from high perches during courtship. The display of the male involves puffing up the feathers, raising the bill, fanning the tail and strutting. They nest in tree hollows or niches in walls or building. They are also known to have used artificial nesting areas provided by humans, like Nest boxes. They line the cavity with grass. The female is involved in most of the nest building that happens about a week before the eggs are laid. Four or five eggs are laid in intervals of 24 hours and these are oval and usually pale blue green with brownish speckles which match the color of hay. The eggs are incubated by the female alone for 8 to 14 days. The nests are said to have a characteristic odour.

Females spend more effort on feeding the young than males. Males are quite aggressive in the breeding season and will defend their territory. and respond to the singing of intruders and even their reflections. Males spend more time on nest defense. Studies of the bird song show dialects with neighbours varying in their songs. The calls of many other species may be imitated as part of their song. This may indicate that birds disperse and are not philopatric. They appear to use elements of the calls of other birds in their own songs. Females may sing briefly in the presence of male. Apart from their song, they use a range of calls including territorial calls, emergence and roosting calls, threat calls, submissive calls, begging calls and distress calls. The typical mobbing calls is a harsh hissing ''krshhh''.

The diet of Magpie Robins includes mainly insects and other invertebrates. They usually catch insects in mid-air and take it to a perch to consume it.They often feed in groups of up to 6 members.They also prey on ants by hopping on the ground.These insectivores birds are known to occasionally take geckos, leeches, centipedes and even fish.

They are often active late at dusk. They sometimes bathe in rainwater collected on the leaves of a tree.
Oriental Magpie-Robin They are distinctive black and white birds with a long tail that is hld upright as they forage on the ground or perch conspicuously Copsychus saularis,Geotagged,India,Oriental Magpie-Robin

Cultural

Magpie Robins were widely kept as cagebirds for their singing abilities and for fighting in India in the past. They continue to be in the pet trade in parts of Southeast Asia.

The Magpie Robin is the National Bird of Bangladesh, where it is common and known as the ''Doyel'' or ''Doel'' . It is a widely used symbol in Bangladesh, appearing on currency notes, and a landmark in the city of Dhaka is named as the ''Doyel Chatwar'' .

In Sri Lanka this bird is called ''Polkichcha''.

References:

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Status: Least concern
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyMuscicapidae
Genus Copsychus
SpeciesC. saularis