Known for beautiful and varied songs, the Oriental magpie-robin is the national bird of Bangladesh. Its image is used on paper currency.
What They Eat
Most of this bird’s diet consists of insects and their larvae. It will also eat fallen fruit, seeds, nectar from flowers, and small animals such as geckos, fish, earthworms, crabs and spiders.
Where They Live
Found throughout southeast Asia and India, this bird lives in dry, deciduous forest and prefers areas with shady evergreen trees. Oriental magpie-robins are common in cultivated lowlands and in areas near human dwellings.
What They Do
The Oriental magpie-robin’s long tail is often held upright. During courtship the male puffs up his feathers, raises his bill, fans out his tail, and struts. He will sing and simultaneously move his tail along with his singing rhythm.
How They’re Doing
Currently, the Oriental magpie-robin has a stable population and is common throughout much of its range. However, this bird is sought after for the caged bird industry in Asia, so it is a species that warrants careful monitoring.
- The Oriental magpie-robin was formerly classified as a member of the Thrush family. It was previously called dhyal thrush.
- The nest of the Oriental magpie-robin is described as an untidy pad of grass, small roots, pine needles, palm fronds, fibers, hair, feathers, snakeskin, and dried leaves. Nests are located in a cavity – a hole in a tree, building, or even in a discarded pole or mailbox.
- A typical nest contains 2-5 eggs, laid in 24-hour intervals. The eggs are pale blue-green to green, with reddish-brown blotching and mottling.
- The Oriental magpie-robin is capable of mimicking other birds and has a large repertoire of songs. Neighboring birds can have varying song dialects.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Oriental magpie-robin as a species of “least concern” for extinction. It is common throughout much of its range and its global population is stable. The greatest threat to the Oriental magpie-robin is capture for the caged bird industry. In recent years, this species has shown up in Asian bird markets at alarming numbers.
Overall, bird numbers in Asia are rapidly declining, resulting in what some fear will become a “silent forest.” The greatest threats to Asian songbirds are deforestation and illegal trade. The songbird trade in Indonesia alone is big business, involving 300 species and 1-2 million birds annually.
The tradition of bird keeping in parts of Southeast Asia has deep cultural roots. Having songbirds in one’s home can be considered a sign of wealth, sophistication and status. Popular bird singing competitions raise the demand for certain species like the Oriental magpie-robin. Champions in national contests may win US$20,000-$30,000, a figure more than 30 times the monthly income in rural areas.
One thing you can do to help species impacted by illegal wildlife trade is to make sure you are responsibly sourcing your pets.