| The Dayal, or more correctly, it would seem, DHYAL
(corrupted into Dial-bird), is the Hindustani name commonly adopted by
Anglo-Indians for one of the loudest-voiced of their songsters, the Grecula
of Linnaeus, whose plumage, black
and white in the male, made Edwards call it the "Little Indian Pye".
Now commonly known as the Oriental Magpie Robin, with a modern 21st Century
classification of Copsychus saularis, records exist of this bird
being kept in Nepal at least as late at the 19th century to exhibit
its pugnacity, and it is said that a bird that would fight well was highly
Its other habits were recognized by the best ornithologists
of the 19th Century as pointing to an alliance with the Saxicoline group
of Turdidae (THRUSH) or
19th Century naturalists (Cat. B. Br. Mus. vii. p. 60) plunged the
genus Copsychus into the large group of birds known as Timeliidae
(now more often written Timaliidae), with the true members
of which it has little in common. In current times, at the year 2006
the Copychus genus is now recognised as being part of the Muscicapidae
family of Old World Flycatchers.
There are 7 or 8 species within the Copychus genus,
with the Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis)
being just one of those species. One species, the Black Shama,
is peculiar to the Philippine Islands, and its scientific
name Copsychus Cebuensis, is named after the island
of Cebu. Simlarly the Seychelles Magpie Robin is known as Copsychus
sechellarum, while two species are found in Madagascar. The
White-Vented Shama (Copsychus niger) has obtained its name from the fact
that it was
known throughout India, simply by its Hindostani name
of Shama. It deserves for being a favourite song-bird.
The phonetic spelling of Dayal from DHYAL has naturally
given rise to a series of confusions in the past. First used by Albin in
1737 (Suppl. N. H. Birds, i. p. 17, pls. xvii. xviii.), it was supposed
by Levaillant (Ois. d'Afr. iii. p. 50) to refer to the ordinary
instrument for ascertaining the time of day, and by him was accordingly
rendered Cadran. Subsequently Jerdon asserted (B. India, ii.
p.1l6), that Linnaeus, thinking it had some connection with a sun-dial,
called it "solaris, by lapsus pennae, saularis." Herein,
Jerdon was misled, for the epithet applied by Linnaeus is but the Latinized
form of "Saulary", the name under which a cock and hen were sent from Madras
by E. Buckley to Petiver, who first described the species (Ray, Synops.
Meth. Avium, p.197).