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The Oriental Magpie-Robin 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. Occurring across most of the Indian Subcontinent and parts of 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.
Magpie Robins breed mainly from March to July in India and January to June in south-east Asia. Males sing from high perches during courtship. The display of the male involves puffing up the feathers, raising the bill, fanning the tail and strutting.After mating, both the male and female search for a suitable sight for nesting. They nest in tree hollows or niches in walls or building. They are also known to have used artificial nesting areas provided by humans, like Nest boxes. They line the cavity with grass to deter predators. 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 which match the color of hay. The eggs are incubated by the female alone for 8 to 14 days.The nests are said to have a characteristic odour. 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 neighbours 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 is a harsh hissing krshhh. The diet of Magpie Robins includes mainly insects and other invertebrates. They usually catch insects in mid-air and take it to a perch to consume it.They often feed in groups of up to 6 members.They also prey on ants by hopping on the ground.These insectivores birds are known to occasionally take geckos,leeches, centipedes and even fish. They are often active late at dusk.They sometimes bathe in rainwater collected on the leaves of a tree.
Magpie Robins were widely kept as cagebirds 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.
Spotted on Mar 13, 2013
Submitted on Mar 13, 2013