Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Copsychus saularis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Species:C. saularis
Common Names:Oriental Magpie Robin
Status:Uncommon Resident


This is one of the most popular songbirds in the subfamily Muscicapinae, which includes the flycatchers and the closely related White-rumped Shama.

Size 19–21 cm

Read more about the Passeriformes order.
Read more about the Muscicapidae family.


Found throughout Singapore and its offshore islands.

Locality Map

General Biology

In Singapore, the population of the Oriental Magpie-robin  has greatly declined due owing to trapping for the caged bird trade. In 1984, only 15 wild birds were found on the island. A reintroduction programme started in the 1980s has been slowly reversing this trend. This bird can now be seen in small numbers in rural areas, mature parks and gardens, sometimes in mangroves, but never in rainforest. It can often be seen perched on top of a post and singing - as seen in a video at this LINK and also HERE. It has a loud and melodious song, interspersed with churrs and whistles. The male is bolder than the female and has a curious habit of raising and lowering its tail - see HERE. A video of the bird contracting its vent in the process of excreting waste can be viewed HERE. It hops on the ground, in an upright stance, searching for worms and insects. When courting the female, the male hops with its wings trailing on the ground, to show off the contrast of its black and white plumage and sings. Stages of moulting from its juvenile to adult plumage has been documented.

The male is very territorial and often chases other males away.

It regularly indulges in bathing, also basking in the sun and preening, as shown in this VIDEO.

This magpie-robin has been observed to indulge in anting... images of which can be seen HERE.


Feeds on insects like alate termites, lizard, and ... Also fruits of the Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis) that it forages from the ground and Madras Thorn (Pithecellobium dulce)...

Life Cycle

It nests in the most odd places like in a mailbox. It has also been documented building its nest on top of a series of Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) nest.


Wang, L. K. 2011. Oriental magpie robin. Pp. 399. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors). Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore. 552 pp.

Wang, L.K. & Hails, C.J. 2007. An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1–179, Singapore.

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