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Rüppell's Robin-Chat - BirdForum Opus

Presumed subspecies donaldsoni.
Photo by Andrew S
Lake Awasa, Ethiopia, December 2004

Alternative names: Lesser Robin-chat; Black-tailed Robin-chat

Cossypha semirufa


18-19 cm.

  • Black head with long, broad white supercilium
  • Olive-brown mantle to lower back and scapulars
  • Dark brown wings
  • Orange-rufous rump to tail
  • Blackish central tail feathers, other feathers partly black on outer webs
  • Orange-rufous underparts, paler on mid-belly
  • Black bill
  • Brownish-grey legs
  • donaldsoni with darker upperparts with a slight grey-blue cast and an almost full rufous hindcollar
  • intercedens like donaldsoni but larger and with darker, chestnut rump and outer tail

Sexes alike. Juveniles are scaled blackish and lack the supercilium.

Subspecies intercedens.
Photo © by THE_FERN. Aberdares National Park, Kenya, November 2021

Similar species

Smaller than White-browed Robin-Chat and with darker wings and black central tail.


Eastern Africa: South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.
Common to locally abundant in its range.


Three subspecies recognized:


Moist montane forests and shrubland. Also in country and suburban gardens, often at forest edge.
Occurs from 1400 to 2300 m in East Africa, from 1000 to 3200 in Ethiopia.



Feeds on insects like beetles, caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers and mantises. Forages at driver-ant swarms and sometimes close to smaller mammals, catching insects disturbed by their passage.


Breeding season March to August in Ethiopia and March to June (one record in December) in Kenya. The nest is an open cup made of dead twigs, rootlets, moss and leaf skeletons. It's placed 1 to 2.5 m off the ground in shrub, tree hole, stump or hanging basket in gardens. Lays 2 to 3 eggs. Often parasitised by Red-chested Cuckoo in Kenya.


This is a sedentary species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2015. IOC World Bird Names (version 5.2). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved May 2015)

Recommended Citation

External Links