White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus


Justification of Red List category
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.

Population justification
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).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and the bird trade (Collar 2005).

Distribution and population

This species has a large range extending from northern India, Nepal and southern China south to Sri Lanka and Indonesia. The species has been introdiced to the islands O'ahu and Kaua'i, Hawaii Islands (Roberts et al. 2020).


This species inhabits lowland tropical moist forest, swamp forest, overgrown tree plantations, secondary jungle, mangroves and forest clearings, from sea-level to 1,500 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).


This species is exploited for the cage-bird trade and has declined to near-extinction in some countries within its range (Collar 2005). Subspecies hypolizabarbouri and opisthochra are for example most likely extinct in the wild, whilst subspecies melanurus is at critical levels on Siberut, and potentially extinct on other islands (F. Rheindt in litt. 2020). A 2018 survey of bird ownership involving over 3,000 households in all six of Java’s provinces moreover estimated that 3,385,689 ± 605,949 individuals are currently kept in Java alone (Marshall et al. 2020). As such, even if a small proportion of these birds come from the wild, then this would represent a considerable threat to populations (H. Marshall in litt. 2020). This species is also threatened by extensive deforestation occurring throughout its range (Roberts et al. 2020; Global Forest Watch 2021).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Ex-situ breeding programmes for subspecies hypoliza, opisthochra, melanurus, and barbouri are currently underway (F. Rheindt in litt. 2020). In Singapore, captive-breeding programmes are also in place to supply demand for the songbird trade (Roberts et al. 2020). 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Further research is urgently required on population size and trends, including research on ecological behaviours such as territoriality and breeding success (Roberts et al. 2020). The potential negative association of the species across its introduced range in Hawaii also requires monitoring, including investigation of the likelihood for avian malaria transmission to native species. As such, further research must be implemented to compare both extant and introduced ranges of the White-rumped Shama (Roberts et al. 2020).


Text account compilers
Fernando, E.

Marshall, H., Rheindt, F. & Temple, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Copsychus malabaricus. Downloaded from on 29/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/09/2023.