Oriental Magpie Robin nesting in a mailbox

05 Jul 2011   in Nesting 7 Comments »
Contributed by Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

“Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis musicus) nests are not easy to identify as they are intelligent and alert birds.

“We find that cycling a good way to watch birds as they tend to pay less attention to a cyclist than a pedestrian. Spotted this pair visiting a mailbox when out cycling this morning near my home and went back to have a look (below).

“They were putting the finishing touches to their nest; in the process of lining the interior. There was no food being brought and no incubation activities. Both parents were involved in nest building but female brought more material, although the male accompanied these visits as well. All nest visits I observed were together by both partners.

“This is the third time I have seen Magpie Robins consider or use a mailbox for nesting. I suspect this bird is open to nesting in artificial nesting boxes if provided by the community.

“Disclosure: Most pictures were taken from the car as a hide. Visited nest when parents flew away to get material. Spent 40-60 seconds at the nest and used flash twice for interior of nest. I obscured the address on the box as do not want the nesting birds disturbed.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Canning Garden Home, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
24th April 2011




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  • 7 Responses to "Oriental Magpie Robin nesting in a mailbox"

    1. John Lynn says:

      I wonder if the deployment of nesting boxes will help revive the OMR population in Singapore.

    2. K C Tsang says:

      I did deploy one many years ago, did not work after a number of years hanging on the wall, maybe they prefer BTO nest boxes …. ; ) anyways will try again soon …

    3. Lee Chiu San says:

      The problem with the Oriental Magpie Robin is that it is valuable, and one of the easiest birds to poach. With bird flu, Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority has banned the import of many songbirds.

      Dealers have turned to trading in the locally available Magpie Robin, so poachers target it. Being highly territorial, all that is needed is a decoy, or even a recording of the song, to bring a resident male charging into a mist net.

      What is needed is strong enforcement action. I urge all bird lovers to call the police whenever they see any bird-trapping activities – which are technically illegal in Singapore. If the policemen are unfamiliar with the regulations, inform them. If they remain indifferent, report them to higher authority.

    4. Margie Hall says:

      Like K.C. Tsang, I have left a couple of old mailboxes in various places in the garden, after seeing Oriental Magpie Robins successfully nesting in the mailbox of a neightbour’s house years ago, but somehow the birds prefer working mailboxes of their own choosing!!

    5. Lee Chiu San says:

      I have no experience breeding the Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) but have these observations about the breeding of the related Shama (Copsychus malabaricus).

      Aviculturalists do not provide closed nest boxes for shamas, as they would for parrots and parakeets.

      With a shama nest box, only the lower half of the front is enclosed. Access for the adult birds will be through the open upper front.

      Shamas (and some parrots) do not always use a box for nesting. Any fairly deep depression high up a tree will do. Parrots will excavate and deepen the hole but shamas have no way of doing so.

      A mating pair of shamas once escaped from my aviary. They stayed in the neighbourhood and continued to come to me for food. They raised their brood in the tall broken-off stump of a very big and old papaya tree.

      Papaya trees have soft cores. In this case, while the outer wood still formed a cylinder, the central part had rotted to create a depression about four or five inches deep.

      Luckily, the hole had adequate drainage and did not become waterlogged.

    6. Abhay ravi says:

      Yes,i have also seen oriental magpie robins nesting in street lights.The tube lamp was slightly shorter than the tube holder,so, left some space at the edge which the birds used as an entrance.I have also seen these birds nesting in an abandoned shoe in my cousin’s terrace.The female was involved in the nest building procedure.

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