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Cousin Island Special Reserve, Seychelles
Hostile takeover…the story of a magpie-robin king

On the 3rd of July 2013 a war was waged in the forest of Cousin on the border of Territory 5 by the water source. Many a battle has been fought for water and this was a fight to the death…

Leading the cavalry for T3B was Dominant male Red-Orange whilst defending T5 was the war veteran Orange-ShockPink. After a violent battle the younger commander gained victory and although Orange Shockpink fought bravely he was mortally wounded and died shortly after battle ceased.

He will be fondly remembered as one of the greatest Magpie-Robins Cousin has ever known; he has created what is now the largest territory in the realm and sired many offspring. His age at death was 8 years which makes him an old man, he started life in T1C in 2005 and became the ‘King’ of T5 in 2008 and has therefore held supremacy there for 5 years!

His most recent offspring Black-Orange (aka Hal) is shaping up to be a key player in the realm and is often seen venturing out on his/her own through the forest.

Since the death of Orange-Shockpink a new King has established himself in the territory-White Brown, he has moved from T3B, the winning side, and has quickly asserted his authority over the T5 magpie-robins, in particular the young princes in the realm.
Fights of this sort are common for the Seychelles Magpie Robins. On Cousin there are 10 territories, each defended by a dominant male & female with several subordinates. The territories denote the foraging area for the birds and are therefore defended fiercely. Another reason that fights may occur is to challenge a dominant adult and these most commonly result in the death of the losing bird. This is a natural behaviour and acts as a means of capping the population on Cousin; there isn’t enough foraging space for a larger population and therefore the Seychelles Magpie Robin population on Cousin has been stable for several years, fluctuating from 40-50 birds at all times.

Breaking news from the island: a chick has been discovered in T5 which must have been the last breeding attempt of our lost King Orange-Shockpink. This means he has added two offspring to the island this year!

We will keep you updated of any more breaking news from Cousin Island!

April Burt