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Species Guide
A photo of a Karoo Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas coryphoeus)
Karoo Scrub Robin

Karoo Scrub Robin

Cercotrichas coryphoeus

The Karoo scrub robin, a modestly adorned avian, measures 17 cm in length and tips the scales at a mere 19 grams. Its plumage is a study in understated elegance, with upperparts cloaked in a drab greyish brown. The visage is marked by a narrow, white supercilium perched above a slender black eye-stripe, and a partial whitish eye-ring graces the area below the eye. The tail, a shade darker than the rump and mantle, contrasts with the brown of the upper wing coverts and flight feathers. The underwing presents a dull buffy brown. Completing the ensemble are a black bill, brown eyes, and black legs and feet.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify this species, look for the distinctive white supercilium and black eye-stripe on the face. The darker tail and the contrast between the upperparts and the underwing are also key characteristics to observe.


The Karoo scrub robin is a denizen of dry shrubland and Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation. It shows a preference for bare ground beneath vegetation roughly 1 meter in height and is often found in the low shrublands of the Karoo and Namaqualand in South Africa, as well as in drainage line woodland. Occasionally, it may be spotted among tall vegetation at the base of farm dam walls.


This species graces the landscapes of Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa, where it has adapted to a variety of arid environments.


The Karoo scrub robin is a ground forager, often seen gleaning insects from the earth's surface. It is monogamous and generally nests in solitude, with pairs staunchly defending their territory year after year.

Song & calls

The vocal repertoire of the Karoo scrub robin is quite individualistic, with variations such as "chip," "swee-chipswirraree," and "seeep-seeep-treeeeyer," which may be repeated 5 to 10 times.


Pairs of Karoo scrub robins are monogamous and tend to nest alone, maintaining and defending their territory consistently. Their nests are open and often deep cups, ingeniously crafted into platforms of varying sizes or large twigs, and lined with fine, dry grass, leaf fragments, and moss. The eggs are a delightful aquamarine or turquoise, adorned with brown spots and blotches, numbering between 2 and 4.

Similar Species

While there are no specific similar species mentioned, one should always consider variations within the Muscicapidae family when identifying birds in the field.

Diet and Feeding

The Karoo scrub robin's diet is predominantly insectivorous, with a particular fondness for worker ants. It also partakes in termites, beetles, caterpillars, moths, and small grasshoppers, all of which are foraged from the ground.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List categorizes the Karoo scrub robin as Least Concern, indicating a stable population without immediate threats to its survival.

Karoo Scrub Robin Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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