The Oriental Magpie Robin, which is a common sight in
South China parks, is an
unmistakable bird which looks like a much smaller version of the Black-billed
Magpie. Once placed in the family of thrushes, “Turdidae,” it is now slotted in
the family, “Muscicapidae,” the family of flycatchers.
This species is a non-migratory bird of
Pakistan, and Southeast
Asia, including China, Indonesia, Thailand
and the .
In Philippines China, it is found in the
southern half of the country including the central portion of the country, as
well as . Tibet
The male of the species is a beautifully-patterned black and white bird, while the female is a greyer version of the male.
The Oriental Magpie Robin favors open wooded areas and cultivated areas such as gardens and parks. This preference of habitat makes it an ideal city-dweller.
During the breeding season, the male of the species becomes extremely animated and can be seen singing loudly from a perch high in a tree while puffing his feathers and fanning his tail in his attempts to attract a mate.
After mating, the female will lay 4-5 eggs in a nest she constructed in a cavity of a tree or wall. The female takes most of the responsibility for the raising of chicks while the male will aggressively defend their nesting territory.
This species is primarily an insectivore with its diet consisting mainly of insects and other invertebrates. On occasion, they will consume small lizards and even fish.
The Oriental Magpie Robin is still a fairly common bird within its Chinese range, but its population has declined, especially around
Hong Kong, due to its frequent capture
for the caged bird trade and the introduction of invasive species such as the
As a bird of such striking beauty, this species is well-loved throughout its Asian range. It is highly admired by cage bird collectors for its beautiful singing, and it is the national bird of
Oriental Magpie Robin in moult (Photo by Brian Westland)