|Male of race cambaiensis|
|Female of race cambaiensis (Haryana)|
The Indian robin (Saxicoloides fulicatus[note 1]) is a species of bird in the family Muscicapidae. It is widespread in the Indian subcontinent, and ranges across Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The males of northern populations have a brown back whose extent gradually reduces southwards with populations in the southern peninsula having an all black back. They are commonly found in open scrub areas and often seen running along the ground or perching on low thorny shrubs and rocks. Their long tails are held erect and their chestnut undertail covert and dark body make them easily distinguishable from the pied bushchat and the oriental magpie robin.
The Indian robin is sexually dimorphic in plumage with the male being mainly black with a white shoulder patch or stripe whose visible extent can vary with posture. The northern populations have the upper plumage brownish while the southern populations are black above. The males have chestnut undertail coverts and these are visible as the bird usually holds the 6–8 cm long tail raised upright. The females are brownish above, have no white shoulder stripe and are greyish below with the vent a paler shade of chestnut than the males. Birds of the northern populations are larger than those from southern India or Sri Lanka. Juvenile birds are much like females but the throat is mottled.
Several populations are named based on their plumage differences. The nominate subspecies refers to the population found across southern Peninsular India. Race leucopterus is found in Sri Lanka. Race cambaiensis of western India and erythrura (=erythrurus) of eastern India (south to around Sambalpur) have the males with brown backs. The population intermedius includes forms between cambaiensis, erythrura and fulicata in central India and parts of the Deccan region. A race munda was named for a specimen from Punjab but is now considered synonymous with cambaiensis. Older classifications treat the population in southern India under the name ptymatura while considering the type locality as Sri Lanka although the type locality has subsequently been restricted to Pondicherry.
Local names recorded by Jerdon include Nalanchi (Telugu), Wannatikuruvi (Tamil, Washerman bird), Kalchuri (Hindi) and Paan kiriththaa (Sinhala). The genus name indicates that it looks similar to Saxicola, the genus of the pied bushchat, a bird often found in similar habitats.
Distribution and habitat
This bird is found in open stony, grassy and scrub forest habitats. They are mainly found in dry habitats and are mostly absent from the thicker forest regions and high rainfall areas. All populations are resident and non-migratory. The species is often found close to human habitation and will frequently perch on rooftops.
Population densities of 193-240 individuals per square km have been estimated in the Pondicherry University campus. The ratio of males to females was about 1.5:1. Territory size for males is estimated at about 6650 m2. Males can be aggressive to others during the breeding season and will even attack reflections. Human activities such as felling and firewood removal in forests appear to benefit them.
They feed mostly on insects but are known to take frogs and lizards especially when feeding young at the nest. Individuals may forage late in the evening to capture insects attracted to lights.
The breeding season is December to September but varies according to region and usually begins with the first rains. Peak breeding in northern India is in June and is earlier in Southern India. In Sri Lanka it breeds in March to June and August to September. Males sing during this season and display by lowering and spreading their tail feathers and strutting around the female, displaying their sides and fluffing their undertail coverts. The songs of males have variants for inviting mates and for deterring other males. Males will drive away other males and patrol their territory by flying with slow wing-beats from perch to perch. They may sometimes peck at their reflections. An aggressive display involves fluffing up the feathers and holding the bill high.
Nests are built between rocks, in holes in walls or in a tree hollow. Nests are lined with animal hair and it has been noted that many nests have pieces of snake sloughs. The eggs are of regular oval form, but many are elongated and a few pointed. They have a fair amount of gloss. The ground-colour is white, often tinged with faint green or pink, and this is rather closely spotted, speckled, streaked, and mottled, with rich reddish or umber-brown and brownish yellow, with some underlying lavender. The markings are denser at the larger end of the egg, where they form an irregular cap. Some eggs are blotched with dark reddish brown at the large end. Eggs are about 0.76–0.84 inches (1.9–2.1 cm) long and 0.55–0.62 inches (1.4–1.6 cm) wide. Three to four eggs is the usual clutch. An abnormal clutch of seven has been noted although none of the eggs hatched at this nest. Only the female incubates. Eggs hatch in about 10–12 days. Chicks have black down. Both males and females feed the young, the males sometimes passing food to the female which in turn feeds the young. Nestlings may feign dead (thanatosis) when handled. Nestlings may be preyed on by the rufous treepie. The same nest site may be reused in subsequent years.
An old anecdotal record of these birds laying their eggs in the nests of Turdoides babblers has not been supported by later observers. Laboratory studies have demonstrated cyclic changes in the melanin pigmentation of the tissue surrounding the testes. The dark pigmentation is lost during the breeding season and regained later.
- Rasmussen & Anderton emend the species epithet from fulicata to fulicatus since Saxicola is masculine and the -oides ending is always masculine according to ICZN Code 184.108.40.206. ICZN Code. See also David, Normand; Gosselin, Michel (2002). "The grammatical gender of avian genera". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 122 (4): 257–282.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Saxicoloides fulicatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Linnaeus (1766). Systema Naturae i:336 (Ceylon).
- Baker, E C Stuart (1921). "A hand-list of genera and species of birds of the Indian Empire". Jour. Bom. Nat. Hist. Soc. 27 (1): 87.
- George Robert Gray (1855). Catalogue of the Genera and Subgenera of Birds Contained in the British Museum. British Museum Natural History. p. 36.
- Rasmussen PC & Anderton, JC (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions. p. 396.
- Majumdar, N (1980). "Occurrence of the Bengal Black Robin, Saxicoloides fulicata erythrura (Lesson) [Muscicapidae: Turdinae], and the Assam Purple Sunbird, Nectarinia asiatica intermedia (Hume) [Nectariniidae] in Orissa State". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 77 (2): 334.
- Van Tyne, J. & W. Koelz (1936). "Seven new birds from the Punjab". Occ. Pap. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan 334: 5.
- Hugh Whistler (1941). Popular Handbook of Indian Birds (3 ed.). Gurney and Jackson. pp. 104–106.
- Ripley, SD (1952). "The Thrushes" (PDF). Postilla 13: 1–48.
- Jerdon, T. C. (1863). The Birds of India. Volume 2 (part 1). Military Orphan Press, Calcutta. p. 121.
- USFWS (2005-03-15). "Notices - Federal Register - March 15, 2005 Vol. 70, No. 49" (PDF). US Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Bull, J. (1974). Birds of New York state. American Museum of Natural History, New York.
- Rajasekhar, B (1993). "Use of line transects to estimate Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicata) population at Pondicherry University Campus". In Verghese, A; Sridhar, S; Chakravarthy, AK. Bird Conservation: Strategies for the Nineties and Beyond. Ornithological Society of India, Bangalore. p. 191..
- Wikramanayake, EB (1952). "Blackbacked Robin attacking car". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 50 (3): 656.
- Raman Kumar and Ghazala Shahabuddin (2006). "Consequences of Rural Biomass Extraction for Bird Communities in an Indian Tropical Dry Forest and the Role of Vegetation Structure" (PDF). Conservation and Society 4 (4): 562–591.
- Sivasubramanian, C (1991). "Frog and lizard in the dietary of the Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata (Linn.)". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 88 (3): 458.
- Bharos, A. M. K. (1997). "Indian Robin Saxicola fulicata foraging in the light of fluorescent lamps.". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 94: 571.
- Betts, F N (1951). "The birds of Coorg. Part 1". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 50 (1): 20–63.
- Oates, E W (1905). Catalogue of the collection of birds' eggs in the British Museum. 4. pp. 151–153.
- Thyagaraju, A. S. (1955). "The courtship (?) display of the Blackbacked Indian Robin [Saxicoloides fulicata (Linn.)]". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 53 (1): 129–130.
- Kumar, A (2012). "Breeding biology of Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata in northern India" (PDF). J. Exp. Zool. India 15 (1): 57–61.
- Wikramanayake, E.B. (1952). "Blackbacked robin [Saxicoloides f. fulicata (Linn.)] attacking car". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 50 (3): 656.
- Ali, S & S Dillon Ripley (1998). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan 9 (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 61–67.
- Shanbhag, AB; Gramopadhye, A (1996). "Peculiar nesting site and some observations on the breeding behaviour of Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata Linn". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 36 (1): 3–5.
- Strecker, John K (1926). "On the use, by birds, of snakes' sloughs as nesting material" (PDF). The Auk 43 (4): 501–507. doi:10.2307/4075138.
- Beavan, RC (1867). "Notes on various Indian birds". Ibis 3 (12): 430–455.
- Oates, E. W. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 2. Taylor and Francis London. p. 115.
- Javed, Salim (1990). "Abnormal clutch in Indian Brownbacked Robin Saxicoloides fulicata cambaiensis (Latham)". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 89 (2): 258.
- Ali, S (1997). The Book of Indian Birds. 12th ed. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-563731-3. OCLC 214935260.
- George, JC (1961). "Parental cooperation in the feeding of nestlings in the Indian Robin". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 58 (1): 267–268.
- Begbie, A (1905). "Nest of the Brown-backed Indian Robin Thamnobia cambaiensis". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 16 (3): 513.
- Naik, RM (1963). "On the nesting habits of the Indian Robin, Saxicoloides fulicata (Linnaeus)". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 3 (9): 7.
- Field, F (1902). "Robin laying in babbler's nest". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 14 (3): 610–611.
- Agrawal SC, Bansal G. (1983). "Instance of melanosis in the gonads of male Indian Robin, Saxicoloides fulicata (Lin)". Poult Sci. 62 (2): 385–388. doi:10.3382/ps.0620385. PMID 6835913.
- Shinde GB, Gharge MD, Gavhane AB, Jadhav BV (1990). "A new avian cestode from Saxicoloides fulicata at Aurangabad (M.S.) India". Rivista di Parassitologia 51 (3): 255–257.
- Harry Hoogstraal and Harold Trapido (1 June 1963). "Haemaphysalis kutchensis sp. n., a Common Larval and Nymphal Parasite of Birds in Northwestern India (Ixodoidea, Ixodidae)". The Journal of Parasitology 49 (3): 489–497. doi:10.2307/3275824. ISSN 0022-3395. JSTOR 3275824.
- George, JC (1963) Some observations on the breeding behaviour of the Indian Robin, Saxicoloides fulicata (Linnaeus). Pavo 1(2):71-78.
- Magon, VK (1979) Distribution of acid phosphatase in the digestive system of two Indian birds, Uroloncha malabarica and Saxicoloides fulicata. Pavo 17(1&2):27-32.
- Rajvanshi, G; Gupta, MM; Yeshowardhana; Singh, VS (1985) Histochemical localization of calcium and iron in the gonad of male Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicata). Pavo 23(1&2):31-36.
- Rajvanshi, G; Gupta, MM; Bhatnagar, VK; Bhatnagar, Sumar (1985) Cyclic changes in Carbohydrate localization in gonad of male Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata (Linn.). Pavo 23(1&2):41-46.
- Gupta, MM; Rajvanshi, G; Singh, VS (1986) Histochemical localization of proteins and Tryptophane aminoacid in testis of Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata (Linn.). Pavo 24(1&2):69-76.
- Culshaw, JC (1948). "Some observations on the territories of Blackbacked Indian Robins Saxicoloides fulicata fulicata, Linn". Jour. Bengal Nat. Hist. Soc. 22 (3): 92.
- Stonor, CR (1944). "On the display of the Indian Robin, Saxicoloides fulicata (Linnaeus)". Ibis 86 (1): 91–93. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1944.tb07534.x.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saxicoloides fulicata.|