I had consistently seen these pair of Indian Robins for the last 3 years during the summer months. They were not to be seen during rest of the period on the grassland area where I frequently take photos, probably due to local migration. I was able to photograph the male only till now, this time I was lucky to photograph both of them together. I used Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM fitted with Canon EF 1.4x III Extender. The place the female was standing was full of small granite stone chips and dried burned grass. As I approached them she got alarmed and started calling the male. He was perched on a stem of dried grass nearby and he responded to her call. Despite nearly 420mm I wished I had a longer reach than the full frame 5D mark III, probably 7D would have given a better magnification. These photos here are cropped to remove the excessive space around the birds.
The Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicatus) is a species of thrush in the Muscicapidae family. It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The males of northern populations have a brown back while those of the southern populations have a black back. They are found in open scrub areas and often forage along the ground and perch on low shrubs and rocks. Their long tails are held erect and their chestnut under tail covert and dark body make them easily distinguishable from the Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata) and the Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis).
This bird is found in open stony, grassy and scrub forest habitats. The tail is held upright and the vent is brown or dark chestnut. The males are glossy black with a white shoulder patch while females are smoky brown with grey underside. Several populations are named based on their plumage differences. The nominate race fulicatus is found in southern Peninsular India and this is the one I photographed here. Race leucopterus is found in Sri Lanka. Race cambaiensis of western India and erythrura of eastern India have the males with brown backs. Race intermedius is found in central India and parts of the Deccan region. The species is often found close to human habitation.
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. Males sing during the breeding season and males display to females by lowering and spreading their tail feathers and strutting around the female.
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-color 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 measure from .76 to .84 in length, and from .55 to .62 in breadth. There is anecdotal evidence of them laying their eggs in the nests of Turdoides babblers. Chicks have black down.
The breeding season is December to September but varies according to region and usually begins with the first rains. Males sing during this season. They may sometimes peck at their own reflections during this time. 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. Cyclic changes in melanin pigmentation of the testes associated with breeding have been noted. Three to four eggs is the norm but clutches of up to seven have been noted. Only the female incubates. Eggs hatch in about 10 days. Both males and females feed the young and males sometimes feed the female at nest. Nestlings are known to be preyed on by the Rufous Treepie(Dendrocitta vagabunda).
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