Oriental Magpie-robin : frugivory

on 21st August 2016

“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”.

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.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 Responses

  1. 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.

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