Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oriental Magpie Robin

PD photo: Female Oriental Magpie Robin found in India

Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) is a small bird, though earlier put under a different nomenclature, now considered an Old World flycatcher. They are particularly well known for their songs and were once popular as pet birds/ cage birds. They are widely used in pet trade in many parts of Southeast Asia.

This Magpie Robin species is 19 centimeters (7.5 inches) long, including the long tail that is usually held cocked upright. It is similar in shape to the smaller European Robin. The male has black upperparts, head and throat apart from a white shoulder patch. The under parts and the sides of the long tail are white. Females are grayish black upper body and grayish white under parts; the females of this race are the palest.

They have local language names such as Kampung, Cerang, Polkichcha, dhyal or dhayal. The Magpie Robin (Doyel or Doel) is the National Bird of Bangladesh, and it is a widely used symbol in Bangladesh on currency notes and other objects of importance.

They are commonly found in many parts of tropical South and Southeast Asia, from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, (Copsychus ceylonensis), Pakistan, Burma (Copsychus musicus), Indonesia, Thailand, China, Singapore and Philippines.

Oriental Magpie Robin is found in open woodland, cultivated areas often close to human habitations. It is seen on the ground, bushes, branches of trees, and sings loudly from the top of trees or other perches during the breeding season. They are common birds in urban gardens as well as forests.

A number of other varieties of this bird have been named, including C. nesiotes, C. zacnecus, C. nesiarchus, C. masculus, C. pagiensis, C. javensis, C. problematicus, C. amoenus, C. adamsi, C. pluto, C. deuteronymus and C. mindanensis, though many are not well distinguishable from one another and the classification itself is disputed. There is more geographic variation in the plumage of females than in that of the males.

Oriental Magpie Robins breed mainly from January to July. Males are quite aggressive in the breeding season, and protect their nests and their territory. The mating signs of the male include puffing up the feathers, raising the bill, fanning the tail and strutting. They nest in tree hollows or niches in walls or building.The female is involved in most of the nest building. Four or five eggs are laid in intervals of 24 hours. The eggs are incubated by the female bird in 8 to 14 days.

The diet of Magpie Robins includes insects and other invertebrates, and they are known to eat insects, geckos, leeches, centipedes and fishes.

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