The oriental magpie robin

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

An oriental magpie robin is seen perching on a tree branch in Shenzhen in this April 25, 2020 photo. Photos by Isaac Cohen 

The oriental magpie robin

Probably one of the most conspicuous bird in Shenzhen, present in basically every corner of the city, the oriental magpie robin (Copsychus saularis) is a total delight to observe. This bird with its particular combination of black and white colors, is not an exclusive of parks or mountains but is easy to find in the streets and neighborhoods of the city.


With a length of about 20 centimeters, males are of a bright black color on the top of their bodies and in the front under half of the chest, with a white underbelly and a white line of feathers crossing the wings. Females are of a lighter grey tone but keep the same black wings. The tail of the bird is relatively large and it is another way of differentiating males from females, as the latter have shorter ones.


An oriental magpie robin is seen perching on a tree branch in Shenzhen on May 15, 2021. 

The magpie robin feeds on a variety of invertebrate animals including insects, arachnids, mollusks, crustaceans and even annelids like earthworms but can also be seen feeding on nectar, fruit and seeds from certain trees.


One of the most fascinating traits about this species is their beautiful vocal behavior. You can hear a wide variety of sounds coming from them. There are even reports of them trying to imitate other bird species.


An oriental magpie robin has an insect in its mouth in this Nov. 26, 2017 photo.

They breed during the spring months, when females lay up to five eggs per clutch in nests that may be reused for another clutch. Newborns may hatch after a short two-week period and will be ready to leave the nest after another two weeks on average.


Although this beautiful bird is not considered to be a threatened species, it is still important to protect them, so that we can enjoy a healthy diversified environment in our beautiful city.