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White-rumped shama

Kittacincla malabarica (Copsychus malabaricus)

Shamalijster / Schamadrossel / Shama à croupion blanc

The White-rumped Shama is a small passerine bird of the family Muscicapidae. It was formerly classified as a member of the thrush family, Turdidae, causing it to be commonly known as the white-rumped shama thrush or simply shama thrush.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (IUCN, 2012). The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as common in at least parts of its range (Robson 2000).



Above: adult shama male



Above: adult shama female


The nominate race is found in the Western Ghats and parts of southern India while leggei is found in Sri Lanka. Race indicus is found in the northern parts of India. Race albiventris is found in the Andaman Islands and now usually considered a distinct species, the Andaman shama. Race interpositus from southwester Asia-China to Myanmar, Thailand and the Mergui Archipelago. Southern China has race minorwhile mallopercnus is found in the Malay peninsula. Race tricolor is found in the Sumatra, Java, Banka, Belitung and Karimata islands. Racemirabilis from the Sunda Strait, melanurus from northwestern Sumatra, opisthopelusjavanusomissusochroptilusabbottieumesus,suavis (Borneo), nigricaudastricklandii and barbouri are the other island forms. The last two are sometimes regarded as a separate species, the white-crowned shama (C. stricklandii).



Above: adult shama male, singing



Above: handfeeding a white-rumped shama, adult male


Native to densely vegetated habitats in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, its popularity as a cage-bird and songster has led to it being introduced elsewhere. 


This species inhabits lowland tropical moist forest, swamp forest, overgrown tree plantations, secondary jungle, mangroves and forest clearings, from sea-level to 1500 m in Thailand, but more usually to 500-600 m. It tends to prefer undergrowth and shady ravines, where it forages on the ground and in the lower strata for arthropods, also taking worms and berries (Collar 2005).


They have been introduced to Kaua'i, Hawai'i, in early 1931 from Malaysia (by Alexander Isenberger), and to O'ahu in 1940 (by the Hui Manu Society). Their popularity as a cage bird has led to many escaped birds establishing themselves. They have been introduced to Taiwan where they are considered an invasive species, eating native insect species and showing aggression towards native bird species.

In Asia, their habitat is dense undergrowth especially in bamboo forests. In Hawaii, they are common in valley forests or on the ridges of the southern Ko'olaus, and tend to nest in undergrowth or low trees of lowland broadleaf forests.



Above: adult shama female


The White-rumped Shama is shy and somewhat crepuscular but very territorial. The territories include a male and female during the breeding season with the males defending the territory averaging 0.09 ha in size, but each sex may have different territories when they are not breeding.

In South Asia, they breed from January to September but mainly in April to June laying a clutch of four or five eggs in a nest placed in the hollow of tree. During courtship, males pursue the female, alight above the female, give a shrill call, and then flick and fan out their tail feathers. This is followed by a rising and falling flight pattern by both sexes. If the male is unsuccessful, the female will threaten the male, gesturing with the mouth open.



Above: adult female shama


Keeping and breeding captive shamas

The voice of this species is rich and melodious which made them popular as cage birds in South Asia with the tradition continuing in parts of Southeast Asia. This species is exploited for the cage-bird trade and has declined to near-extinction in some countries within its range (Collar 2005).


Its voice is loud and clear, with a variety of phrases, and often mimics other birds. They also make a 'Tck' call in alarm or when foraging.


In Asia, their habitat is dense undergrowth especially in bamboo forests. They feed on insects in the wild, but in captivity they may be fed on a diet of boiled, dried legumes with egg yolk and raw meat.
Personally, I provide the following mixture, as seen on the image. The first step is to melt the insects: frozen maggots (a.k.a. pinkies) and crickets. 
Then I put some tofu (bean curd) in the bowls. I add some softbill diet (Tovo Universal Food) (middle row, first image) and mash this up with the tofu. 
At last I add the insects and some live mealworms. 



Above: diet for captive white-rumped shamas



Above: handfeeding tame white-rumped shamas (female left, male right)



Above: adult male


The nest is built by the female alone while the male stands guard. The nests are mainly made of roots, leaves, ferns, and stems, and incubation lasts between 12 and 15 days and the nestling period averaged 12.4 days. Both adults feed the young although only the female incubates and broods. The eggs are white to light aqua, with variable shades of brown blotching, with dimensions of about 18 and 23 mm (0.7 and 0.9 in).



Above: a female shama is building her first choice nestbox (may 2014). Later they continued building in another nextbox (image below), in which they raised several clutched of chicks.



Above: one shama nestling, only 4 days old yet.



Above: shama nestling, only 9 days old yet.



Above: the male is providing the female live food for their nestlings



Above: shama fledgeling, 12 days old.



Above: shama fledgeling, being fed by the adult female



Above: shama fledgeling, 13 days old


White-rumped shama video playlist

Above: White-rumped shama video playlist 

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