The black shama is a medium-sized bird with entirely black plumage. The male has a dark bluish sheen to its plumage, whilst the female is a little more blackish grey, and smaller than the male. The tail is long and graduated, the bill is black and the eyes are dark brown. Juveniles are greyer with browner wings (2). The black shama’s song is a rich, varied series of melodious whistles, and it is also known to mimic the sounds of other birds (2)(3).
The black shama is an unobtrusive bird, often heard before it is seen, probably due to its inconspicuous appearance and its preference for skulking in the dense understorey of forest. The breeding season extends from February to September, when two to three eggs are laid in cup-shaped nests, often found placed in the sawed or broken ends of bamboo stalks (2). The only information known about this secretive bird’s diet comes from the contents of a female’s stomach, which contained small, black beetles (4).
The island of Cebu was once almost completely covered in forest, but today contains less than 0.3 percent of its original forest cover. Logging and shifting cultivation continues to convert the remaining natural habitat (5), leaving little suitable habitat for the black shama.
During the 1980s the black shama was the focus of a population survey and a local awareness campaign. It also occurs within the Central Cebu National Park, however, this site offers little protection. Further surveys and research of this species is required to enable the development of effective management plans, and this obviously needs to be carried out in addition to efforts to conserve the remaining natural habitat on Cebu (4).
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