Backyard Birds

Oriental Magpie Robins

The Oriental Magpie Robin, Copsychus saularis, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, family Muscicapidae. It is also known as Oriental Magpie Robin, Straits Robin, and Magpie.

The Oriental Magpie Robin, locally called the Dhayal, was once common in the Indian songbird trade. When a specimen reached Linnaeus* it was apparently labelled Dial and thinking this had something to do with a sun-dial, he gave it the scientific name of ‘solaris’ (‘saularis’ in error). (*Carolus Linnaeus, Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist – May 23, 1707 – January 10, 1778),

Distribution / Range

This magpie-robin is an insectivorous species that is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka east to Indonesia, south China, and the Philippines.

The Oriental Magpie Robin is found in open woodland, cultivated areas, and around human habitation.

Nesting / Breeding

It nests in a hole, often in a wall, laying 3-6 eggs which are incubated by both sexes.

Oriental Magpie Robin


This species is 19cm long, including the long cocked tail. It is similar in shape to the smaller European Robin but is longer-tailed.

The male has black upperparts, head, and throat apart from a white shoulder patch. The underparts and the sides of the long tail are white. Females are grey above and greyish white. Young birds have scaly brown upperparts and head.

The Oriental Magpie Robin is a common and tame bird. It is terrestrial, hopping along the ground with a cocked tail. The male sings a few melodic notes during courtship.

Magpie Robin in Singapore

This is a native species in Singapore, where it is known by the Malay name Kampung/Cerang. Once very common in the 1920s, it was pushed to near extinction by the 1970s, largely due to illegal poaching, and the disappearance of its natural habitat in the face of rapid urbanisation. Attempts to reintroduce the bird were conducted in the 1980s, but the species remains vulnerable and hence protected by law.

Magpie Robin in Hong Kong

Magpie Robin is a commonly found species in Hong Kong. According to birdwatchers, it is usually seen at large urban parks and the countryside, such as Victoria Peak, Kowloon Park, Mai Po Marshes, and Tai Tam Country Park. Like all wild birds, Magpie Robin is protected by law.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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