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Species Guide

Swynnerton's Robin

Swynnertonia swynnertoni

Swynnertonia swynnertoni, known as Swynnerton's robin, is a charming bird belonging to the Muscicapidae family. It is the sole species within its genus, Swynnertonia, named in honor of the entomologist Charles Swynnerton. This bird is recognized by its distinctive white crescent on the upper breast, elegantly framed by a black line, and a grey tail devoid of yellow markings.

Identification Tips

When observing Swynnerton's robin, look for the white crescent on the upper breast, a key feature distinguishing it from similar species. The male exhibits a more vivid plumage compared to the female, which has a more subdued appearance with an olive wash over the crown and face. Juvenile birds can be identified by their buffy yellow spotted head and upper parts, and a pale greyish brown chest crescent.


Swynnerton's robin inhabits the lush subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, as well as the cooler climes of subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.


This species graces the landscapes of Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, it is particularly prevalent in the relict montane forests of the Eastern Highlands, where it enjoys protection in the Bunga and Chirinda Forest Botanical Reserves, and possibly within the Chimanimani and Nyanga National Parks.


Within its forested realm, Swynnerton's robin thrives at high population densities. It exhibits a strong preference for nesting in the indigenous Dracaena plants, a testament to its specialized breeding habits.


The breeding behavior of Swynnerton's robin is closely tied to the small Dracaena plants, which provide the ideal nesting sites for this vulnerable species.

Similar Species

The White-starred robin shares a superficial resemblance to Swynnerton's robin but can be differentiated by its larger size and the absence of the distinctive white crescent on the breast.

Conservation status

Swynnerton's robin is currently classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The primary threat facing this species is habitat loss, a pressing concern that underscores the need for continued conservation efforts.

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Swynnerton's Robins on Birda

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Jay Coertzen
01 May 2023 - 9:07am
South Africa

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