Bio Facts: Robin, Magpie
Southern Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Viet Nam
Open woodlands and cultivated areas often close to human habitations
Adult length: 7.5 in (19 cm); coloration & appearance: distinctive black and white birds with a long tail that is held upright; similar in shape to the smaller European robin, but with a longer-tail; males have black upperparts, heads and throats apart from a white shoulder patches; underparts and the sides of the long tail are white; females are grayish black above and grayish white; juveniles have scaly brown upperparts and head.
Approximately 15 years
In the wild, they eat insects and other invertebrates, occasionally geckos, leeches, centipedes and fish; in the Zoo, they are fed scientifically developed, commercially available low iron pelleted softbill and moist meat diet, assorted fruits and vegetables, greens, hard-boiled egg, and insects.
IUCN – Least Concern
Magpie robins are often active late at dusk. They sometimes bathe in rainwater collected on the leaves of a tree.
Magpie robins breed mainly from March to July in India and January to June in Southeast Asia. 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 buildings. 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. The eggs are incubated by the female alone for 8 to 14 days. The nests are said to have a characteristic odor.
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 neighbors 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 are a harsh hissing krshhh.
The magpie robin (Copsychus saularis) was formerly classified as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now considered an Old World flycatcher in the family Muscicapidae.
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.
Magpie robins were widely kept as cage birds 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 (Bengali: দোয়েল). 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 (meaning: Doyel Square). In Sri Lanka this bird is called Polkichcha.
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 their population numbers. They are locally protected by law.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
The magpie robin has been part of the Jacksonville Zoo’s animal inventory since 2007.