Oriental Magpie-robin – courtship ritual or conflict?

14 Jun 2013   in Courtship-Mating No Comments »
Contributed by Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

“’Love is in the air’ with many birds mating, nesting or looking after juveniles.

“Was out cycling in the early morning with my wife when we came across a few Oriental Magpie-robins (Copsychus saularis musicus) signing louder than usual and chasing each other around. We stopped to watch and fortunately my camera was with me in my backpack.

“They were involved in a courtship ritual. Two of the adult males were fighting over a female. Have seen this a few times but good to document some parts of it, which include:

1. A singing competition, in which the female also join.

2. Posturing – tilting the head backwards while singing loudly.

“The above composite shows the two competing males (images taken <1 second apart). The image below was on a roof where one male was trying to prevent the other male from having access to the female with the same posture. Both show this head tilt courtship behaviour to intimidate the rival.

3. Another posture is seen (left) where the male hunches down and walks in crouched fashion. Both males did this to intimidate each other.

4. The males also chased each other around and, at times, had physical conflict (below)..

“When we left after a few minutes they were still at it, the courtship unresolved.

“A surprise this morning was spotting a White-rumped Sharma (Copsychus malabaricus) in the heart of the city where the magpie-robins were.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
19th May 2013

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