Oriental Magpie-robin singing

on 20th August 2017

The Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis) was once one of the three most common birds in Singapore. However, due to excessive trappings for the cage bird trade, their numbers declined drastically. Another factor was competition from the more aggressive and increasingly abundant mynas (Acridotheres spp.)

A reintroduction programme, initiated in the early 1980s, helped to slowly increase their numbers. About 40 birds were released over a period of two years and by 1996 a survey showed the presence of 114 birds.

Currently Oriental Magpie-robins can be heard over most parts of Singapore. Their clear melodious song and rasping alarm call easily bring attention to their presence.

An audio recording of can also be heard HERE.

Jeremiah Loei
1st August 2017

Wang, L.K. & C. J. Hails, 2007. An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1-179.

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behavior through photography and videography to a wider audience.

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

One Response

  1. Poaching is one of the biggest problems facing the reintroduction of the Magpie Robin. This is one of the easiest birds to trap. Males are extremely territorial, and usually cannot resist the temptation to challenge a decoy.
    I was always happy to be visited by wild pairs both at my old house in Serangoon Gardens and my present house in Seletar. In a very short time, only the females would be left.
    This is a popular songbird. A well-settled male retails for about $300 currently. However, I would estimate that the mortality rate from the time of trapping until the bird is stable enough to be displayed for sale could be up to 50%.
    Quite a number are legitimately imported, but to ensure that locally poached birds do not enter the trade, the authorities should carry out more stringent checks to match the number of birds offered for sale to the import documents.

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