Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis)


French: Shama dayal German: Dajalschama Spanish: Shama oriental

Gracula Saularis


, 1758,

Bengal, India


Until recently considered conspecific with C. mindanensis (see that species). Races fall into “saularis group” (with ceylonensis, andamanensis and musicus; white belly, white in tail) and “amoenus group” (remaining races; black belly, white in tail, with a few exceptions); latter very distinctive based on one major character difference, forming (in places fairly narrow) hybrid zones with musicus diagonally across C Java and in N–S line from W Sabah to Banjarmasin, Borneo (musicus judged to be a relatively recent invader steadily swamping the black-bellied forms#R); further research into taxonomic status of amoenus group needed, but there is some evidence of genetic differentiation#R. Described race problematicus from Borneo is an intergrade between musicus and pluto. Several other named races are poorly differentiated or part of clinal variation, or based on very small sample sizes: erimelas (NE India E to Indochina, and SW Guangxi, in China)#R and prosthopellus (China and Hainan) synonymized with nominate, and zacnecus (Simeulue I), nesiarchus (Nias I), masculus (Batu Is), pagiensis (Mentawai) and javensis (W Java) with musicus. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. saularis (Linnaeus, 1758) – Oriental Magpie-robin – NE Pakistan and India E to S & E China (S from S Shaanxi and S Jiangsu, including Hainan), S to Thailand and Indochina.
  • C. s. ceylonensis P. L. Sclater, 1861 – S India (S of R Cauvery) and Sri Lanka.
  • C. s. andamanensis A. O. Hume, 1874 – Andaman Is.
  • C. s. musicus (Raffles, 1822) – N Tenasserim, S Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia S to Sumatra (including islands of Simeulue, Nias, Batu, Siberut, Sipura, N Pagai, Belitung, Bangka), W Java and S & W Borneo.
  • C. s. amoenus (Horsfield, 1821) – Black Magpie-robin – E Java and Bali.
  • C. s. pluto Bonaparte, 1850 – N, E & SE Borneo and Maratua I.
  • C. s. adamsi Elliot, 1890 – extreme N coastal Borneo and adjacent islands.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–21 cm; 29–51·3 g. Male nominate race is glossy blue-black above and on breast, with white belly (slight patchy buff tinge around vent), white bands... read more


    Song, from conspicuous perch, sometimes in flight, full and varied, but not rich as in ... read more


    Dry deciduous forest but preferring presence of shady evergreen trees, disturbed peatswamp-forest,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, notably crickets, beetles (including weevils, scarabs, ladybirds), locustids, ants, firebugs, caterpillars, dragonflies,... read more


    Season Apr–Jul in India and all year (except, apparently, Oct) in Sri Lanka; Feb–Aug in China; Jan–Sept in SE Asia; Jan... read more


    Sedentary, although some evidence of altitudinal movements in the Himalayas, where exceptionally... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to very common in India and Sri Lanka. Common in S China, and abundant Hong Kong. One of the most familiar birds in Myanmar,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 January 2020).