Thursday, August 28, 2014

Orange-flanked Bush Robin (Tarsiger cyanurus)

(13 cm.) Male: Blue upperparts; orange flanks; white underparts; white eye-line. Female: uniformly grey-brown upperparts; orange flanks; blue tail; white throat and underparts.

The Orange-flanked Bush Robin is a small, brightly colored and delightfully tame species of songbird that is a common sight among the bushes of city parks and gardens. It is a delight to encounter due to its usually friendly disposition, allowing humans to approach within close range before flying off.

This species gets in name from the orange stripes along its sides, or “flanks.” The male of the species is a beautiful bird with a deep blue back and tail, orange flanks, and white under parts. The female of the species is grayish-brown with a blue tail and the diagnostic orange flanks. This stark difference in coloration between males and females is typical of the bird’s family.

The Orange-flanked Bush Robin is a member of the family, “Mucacipidae,” with other robins and flycatchers. Like all members of this family, this species is an insectivore. This species can usually be found low in bushes or on the ground in search of its favorite food.

This is another very widespread species that breeds as throughout much of East Asia as far west as Finland and reaching Japan in its easternmost range. In China, its breeding range is limited to Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces. During the breeding season, the Orange-flanked Bush Robin is found nesting in mixed coniferous forests. The nest is usually on or near the ground and will contain 3-5 eggs which are incubated by the female.

With the completion of its breeding, the Orange-flanked Bush Robin will begin its long trek to its southern wintering grounds in South and Central China and Southeast Asia. In winter, this bird can be found as far north as Shanghai.

Orange-flanked Bush Robin (Photo by Brian Westland)

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