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Species Guide
A photo of a Kalahari Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas paena)
Kalahari Scrub Robin

Kalahari Scrub Robin

Cercotrichas paena

The Kalahari scrub robin, known scientifically as Cercotrichas paena, is a modestly adorned bird belonging to the Muscicapidae family. Occasionally referred to as the sandy scrub robin, this species exhibits a plumage that harmonizes with its arid surroundings.

Identification Tips

This unassuming bird can be identified by its overall sandy-brown coloration, which provides excellent camouflage in its desert habitat. Observers should note the subtle contrast between the paler underparts and the slightly darker upperparts. The tail is often cocked, a characteristic posture for this species.


The Kalahari scrub robin is a denizen of the sandveld regions, favoring areas with sparse trees and scrub. It is also found on the fringes of woodlands and in savannas. It's adaptability has allowed it to thrive in human-modified landscapes, including old fields and gardens.


The species is distributed across southern Angola, Botswana, Namibia, northern South Africa, and Zimbabwe. It is a common sight within its range and does not currently face significant threats from human activities.


This robin is territorial and monogamous, with territories ranging from 0.7 to 4.3 hectares. Males are known to defend their nesting area with vigor, attacking intruders and alerting to the presence of predators.


Breeding occurs seasonally from August to February, peaking in November to coincide with the wet season. Females take on the task of nest construction, weaving together shrubs and grasses to create a secure nest in low thorny bushes. The process takes approximately five days. Clutch sizes average around two eggs, with larger clutches observed later in the season. Only the female incubates the eggs for about 12 days, while the male stands guard. Post-hatching, the female removes eggshells to conceal the nest's location. Both parents are involved in feeding the altricial chicks and removing their faecal sacs, with fledging occurring around 12 days after hatching.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List categorizes the Kalahari scrub robin as Least Concern, indicating a stable population that is not currently at risk of significant decline.

Kalahari Scrub Robin Sounds

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