Oriental Magpie-robin : frugivory

posted in: Feeding-plants | 2

“I spotted another episode of frugivory by the Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis musicus), this time of a Ficus villosa. This is a creeping ficus that has pear-shaped orange figs 8 mm diameter. I was some distance away when I saw odd behaviour. As the composite image shows the bird was taking fruit from the creeping fig, but did so after a few attempts.

“This is the first time I have seen them actually harvest fruit on the this plant.

MagpieRobinO-Ficus villosa [AmarSingh]

“In the past I have reported an episode of frugivory in August 2011 where an adult female and a juvenile were seen taking the fruit of the Madras Thorn tree (Pithecellobium dulce, Manila Tamarind) HERE. On that occasion they were eating fruit fallen from the tree.

“In August 2015 I reported two Oriental Magpie-robins at the foot of a Giant Mahang tree (Macaranga gigantea) feeding on fallen Mahang fruit HERE.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
9th July 2016

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Fringe of the forest reserve

From literature:
1. Wells 2007 (The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2) only reports animal/insect prey.
2. Robinson 1927 (Birds of Malay Peninsula Vol 1) says that “food is almost completely insectivorous, but in captivity … bananas are readily devoured.”
3. Phillipps 2014 (Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, 3rd edition) says of the Borneo race that “… also eats berries in trees”
4. Collar 2016 (Oriental Magpie-robin in Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive) states that food includes “nectar of e.g. Salmalia and Erythrina, and seeds and fallen wild fruit”.

2 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    When times are bad, many birds will eat what they normally do not. Speaking from my experience in aviculture, most European handbooks mention that birds of the genus Copsychus (Straits Robins, Shamas and related Thrushes) take fruit. The reality is that they will normally refuse to do so unless very, very hungry.

    Among babblers (the family Timalidae) while it is well known that Leothrix (Pekin Robins, Silver-eared Mesia and related birds) will readily eat fruit, the Laughing Thrushes (Garrulax) will not, unless they are close to starvation. Also, Leothrix species willingly eat seeds for some unknown reason, though they seem to get no nutritional value out of them, the seeds passing undigested through the gut. Ignorant keepers, and even those who should know better, feed Garrulax on uncooked rice, which the birds will take if there is nothing else available. The birds will survive for quite a while on this unsuitable diet, but will not thrive.

  2. Amar-Singh HSS

    Appreciate the informative comment Chiu San. I agree with you that birds will take items outside their normal diet when faced with unusual circumstances.

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