Juvenile Oriental Magpie-robin Moulting into Adult

on 22nd November 2011

“This juvenile Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis) was actively in moult when first encountered on 18th September 2011 (above). Its upperpart was mostly brownish but had some irregular patches of black. The fluffy plumage on its front was mottled brown. The bird was clearly still wearing its juvenal plumage but it was in moult. It had an unkempt appearance due to its patchy moulting. Pin feathers were visible on its forehead and part of its wings.

“This juvenile was a very trusting and friendly bird that allowed close range photography. It must have graduated to independence as no adults were in sight and it was capable of sourcing for its own food. It was scanning the ground quietly when it caught sight of something. In the blink of an eye, it darted out from its perch to catch an alate in its bill (above right). The alate was processed by bashing on the ground a few times before it became the bird’s meal.

“Some 4 weeks later, I was fortunate to encounter this individual again (above). And there was yet another opportunity for photography after another 2 weeks (below). Thus, its gradual morphing from juvenile into adult plumage could be pieced together after processing the photos taken . The attached pictures were chosen to illustrate its change from juvenile to sub-adult (after 4 weeks), and then to young adult (after 6 weeks).

“Note the pin feathers that were gradually disappearing as the bird morphed into an adult. Note also the brownish feathers gradually being reduced and replaced by black-coloured adult feathers. After 6 weeks, the unkempt juvenile had morphed into a handsome young adult male.”

Kwong Wai Chong
11th November 2011

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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