WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (Copsychus malabaricus) – Introduced
DESCRIPTION: The male White-rumped Shama has a black plumage with a dark orange breast. The rump is white as well as some feathers in the tail, which have a graduated length. Females have grey-brown tops. In both sexes the bill and the eyes are black, and the legs are pink. The bird is about 10 inches (25 cm) long, and about half that length is for the tail.
VOICE: http://www.soundshawaiian.com/mp3/Shama%20.mp3 – As a member of the thrush family, it has a melodious song like several of its cousins. It also mimics other birds’ songs.
NAME: The English name ‘Shama’ is from Bengali. As for the Latin genus name ‘Copsychus’, it’s from Greek and means ‘black bird’. The species name ‘malabaricus’ refers to the location of the first identified individuals, Malabar in India.
HABITAT: This bird can be found in non-native forested areas on Oahu and Kauai, sometimes also near habitations. It also started expanding into native forests.
DIET: Insects and fruit, in trees or on the ground.
NESTING: The nest is a cup-shaped structure built in a tree not far from the ground. An average of 4 beige eggs are laid. The chicks are fed by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: The white-rumped shama is native to the Indian subcontinent. It has successfully been introduced to Kauai and Oahu from Southeast Asia in the 1930s and 1940s, and is now spreading to other main islands. The bird has also been introduced to Taiwan.
CONSERVATION: Although there is much pressure on the white-rumped shama population in its native range due to its popularity as a cage bird, it is still listed as of ‘least concern’.
NOTES: This species is considered as the best one in Hawaii for the quality of its songs (listen to the videos below). One of the first bird songs ever recorded was of the white-rumped shama in 1889 (see Wikipedia reference below).
Because of this singing ability it is a popular cage bird (a check of its name on YouTube shows that most videos there are of cage birds). There are even ‘shama competitions’!
The white-rumped shama is a territorial bird, and the bird photographed below (at a restaurant) probably did not appreciate being imitated on its own territory. When I started to whistle back at the bird, its whistling tone changed as if it was upset at having a ‘rival’ around, and at some point it swooped down really close to my head to land on an empty table nearby.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Andaman Shama, White-crowned Shama
White-rumped shamas will flick their tail when excited by something in their environment:
Here’s the same shama singing while flicking its tail:
As for this bird below, I was unable to locate it. It is as the whole forest was resonating with its various whistling tunes:
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