15 January 2011

Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) | Murai Kampung

The Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) 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. Distributed in many parts of tropical South and 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.

This species is 19 centimetres (7.5 in) 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.
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(formerly included the Peninsular Indian populations south of the Kaveri River[2]) and southern nominate individuals have the females nearly identical to the males in shade. The eastern populations (Bhutan and Bangladesh) have more black on the tail and were formerly named erimelas.[3] The populations in Burma and further south are named as race musicus.[4] A number of other races have been named across the range including prosthopellus (Hong Kong), nesioteszacnecusnesiarchusmasculuspagiensisjavensisproblematicusamoenusadamsipluto,deuteronymus and mindanensis.[5] However many of these are not well marked and the status of some are disputed.[6] There is more geographic variation in the plumage of females than in that of the males.[7]
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 perch during the breeding season.[3]

Distribution and habitat

This magpie-robin is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Bangladesh, interior IndiaSri Lanka and eastern Pakistan east to IndonesiaThailand, south China, Singapore and the Philippines.[3] They have been introduced to Australia.[11]
The Oriental Magpie Robin is found in open woodland, cultivated areas often close to human habitations.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2004). Copsychus saularis. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesIUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
  2. a b Ali, S & S D Ripley (1997). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan8 (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 243–247.ISBN 0195620631.

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