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Oriental Magpie-Robin - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Straits Robin, Magpie Robin

Nominate subspecies - Male
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur
Photo © by Alok Tewari
India, 29 Feb 2016
Copsychus saularis


Photo by Avian Seeker
Singapore, 27 May 2013

19–21 cm (7½-8¼ in); including long tail

  • Black upperparts, head and throat
  • White shoulder patch, underparts and tail side


  • Grey upperparts
  • Greyish white underparts

Juveniles have scaly brown upperparts and head


Photo by Rosnan_yahya
Johore, Malaysia, 9 August 2004

Males in Borneo have an all black belly.


Photo by Neil
Hong Kong, China 6 May 2005

Southern Asia from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Borneo, Indonesia and south China. Possible spread north into Afghanistan with probably the first sighting for the country in Camp Bastion, Helmand on 2nd April 2012.


Subspecies C. s. ceylonensis
Photo © by Andy Hurley
Ella, Sri Lanka, 4 December 2018

Philippine Magpie-Robin was formerly included in this species.


7 subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • C. s. saularis:
North-eastern Pakistan, Nepal, and northern India to eastern and southern China, Hainan Island, Thailand, and Indochina
  • C. s. ceylonensis:
  • C. s. andamanensis:
  • C. s. musicus:
  • Thai-Malay Peninsula (perhaps an area of introgression between saularis and musicus?), Sumatra and associated islands (Simeulue, the Batu Islands, Nias, and the Mentawai Islands, Riau Archipelago, Belitung, and Bangka), and western Java; intergrades with amoenus in central Java
  • C. s. amoenus:
  • C. s. adamsi:
  • North Borneo, Banggi and adjacent islands
  • C. s. pluto:
  • East Borneo and Maratua Islands


Open woodland, cultivated areas and around human habitation.



They hop on the ground with a frequently cocked tail.


The build their nests in a hole, often in a wall. The clutch consists of 3-6 eggs which are incubated by both sexes.


Their diet consists mostly of crickets, particularly crickets, beetles, caterpillars, ants, wasps and termites.


The male sings from a perch during the breeding season. It is a loud, tuneful, song.
In the recording here one male sitting high up on a Pine tree is giving song with a variety of intervening calls.

Recording © by Alok Tewari
Sat Tal, Dist. Nainital, Alt. 5500-6000 feet above MSL, India, April-2015
In the file below is evening song, rendered at the Sunset time, during summer :

Recording © by Alok Tewari
In the BG is faint call by another Magpie Robin, and brief calls by Rose-ringed Parakeet and Brown-headed Barbet.
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India, June-2017


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Birdforum thread discussing the possible split of Philippine Magpie-Robin
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2015)
  4. Birdforum thread discussing taxonomy of Magpie-Robins
  5. Wikipedia

Recommended Citation

External Links

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