The songs and calls of the Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis musicus) are varied and wide. Over the years I have tried to understand their meaning as I watch them in our garden. Occasion we get ‘unusual’ birds that sing for long periods in the early hours before dawn.
On this occasion we heard a beautiful adult male sing an unusual set of mixed notes. I would not have thought it was Magpie Robin except that we came out to check and spotted it on an electricity pole. The total duration of singing was ~20 minutes but not all was visible (was hidden in tree foliage). I managed some quick hand-held videos followed by only audio recordings. My wife saw another bird Oriental Magpie Robin nearby but I did not hear any duet or response song.
I was slow to recognise that we were having a visit by 9-10 Ashy Minivets (Pericrocotus divaricatus) – an occasional garden visitor. Magpie Robins are known to mimic other birds nearby. I suspect that this male Oriental Magpie Robin was ‘triggered’ to sing this unusual set of notes in an attempt to mimic the song of the Ashy Minivets.
A waveform and sonogram.
Video recording here: https://youtu.be/vSXnRnMHbf8
Audio recording here: https://www.xeno-canto.org/620790 (possibly restricted by XenoCanto)
Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Wild urban garden
Date: 9th February 2021
Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone