663. Copsychus saularis

663. Copsychus saularis.

The Magpie-Robin.

Gracula saularis, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 165 (1766). Copsychus saularis (Linn.), Blyth, Cat. p. 166; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 275; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 114 ; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 202; Hume, N. & E. p. 303 ; id. S. F. ii, p. 230; Hume & Dax. S. F. vi, p. 332; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Ares, p. 613; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 433; Hume, Cat. no. 475; Oates, B. B. i, p. 20 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 61: Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 197; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 80. Copsychus musicus (Raffl.), apud Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 333 ; Hume, Cat. no. 475 bis; Oates, B. B. i, p. 21.

Dayar or Dayal, Hind, and Beng.; Pedda nalanchi, Sarela-gadu, Tel. Zannid-pho, Lepch.; Thapate-lway, Burm.

Coloration. Male. Head, neck, breast, and upper plumage glossy black ; abdomen, sides of the body, and under tail-coverts white ; wing black, the last two secondaries with a considerable amount of white on the outer webs, the lesser and median coverts and the outer webs of the later greater coverts also white; the median two pairs of tail-feathers black, the others white, the fourth pair, however, varying from white with a small black tip to white with a greater or less amount of black in combination; under wing-coverts and axillaries white, with ashy bases varying in extent.

Female. "Wings and tail dark brown, with white distributed as in the male ; chin, throat, breast, and sides of the neck dark grey ; forehead, lores, and cheeks mottled with white and grey; the whole upper plumage uniform dark brown glossed with bluish ; sides of the body, vent, and under tail-coverts pale fulvescent; middle of the abdomen whitish ; under wing-coverts white.

The young have the crown and nape ashy brown ; upper plumage dark brown, streaked or barred with rufous; wings dark brown, with rufous tips to the lesser coverts and broad rufous margins to the quills; the white in the wing disposed as in the adult, and the tail brown, with the white portions similarly disposed; throat and breast greyish brown tipped with rufous; remainder of the lower plumage white. The adult plumage is assumed almost as soon as the young bird is fully fledged.

Bill black; mouth flesh-colour; eyelids plumbeous; iris hazel-brown ; legs dark plumbeous ; claws horn-colour.

Length about 8; tail 3.6; Wing 3.7; tarsus 1.15; bill from gape 1.

Throughout its great range C. saularis is very constant in its type of plumage, the only variation noticeable being in the coloration of the tail and the under wing-coverts and axillaries.

Throughout Continental India and Burma to about Moulmein most of the birds have the fourth pair of tail-feathers, from the outside, white with a small black tip. South of Moulmein and throughout Tenasserim these feathers contain more black and less white, and in this respect approach O. musicus of Java. It is not, however, difficult to find birds in Ceylon and parts of India with these feathers almost entirely black, and consequently I do not think that this character can be utilized for the separation of the two species.

With regard to the other point, Indian and Burmese birds have the under wing-coverts and axillaries almost entirely white, but in the southern parts of Tenasserim some birds are found with these parts more black than white ; but still they cannot be considered to be C. musicus, in which these parts are almost entirely black, and consequently I do not admit this latter species into the Indian list.

Distribution, Occurs in almost every part of the Empire and Ceylon, ascending the Himalayas up to about 5000 feet; rare in the extreme North-west and Sind, and probably absent from the Nicobars.

Habits, &c. A common and familiar bird wherever it occurs. This species has many of the habits of the common English Robin, being equally confiding and entering verandahs of houses without fear. It is a fairly good songster, feeds on the ground on insects, and has the habit of raising its tail perpendicularly at the end of its run. This bird breeds from March to July, constructing a rough nest in holes of trees, or walls, or in houses, and laying five eggs, which are greenish marked with reddish brown, and measure about .87 by .66.

The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
OATES EW. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.2 1890.
Title in Book: 
663. Copsychus saularis
Book Author: 
Eugene William Oates, Edited by William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Common name: 
Magpie Robin
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Copsychus saularis
Vol. 2
Term name: 

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