Backyard Birds

White-browed Robin-Chats

The White-browed Robin-Chats (Cossypha heuglini) – also known as Heuglin’s Robins or Eye-browed Robin Chats – are found in Africa, from Chad and Sudan through southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. In southern Africa, they are common from the northeastern corner south to Zimbabwe, Mozambique northern Namibia, and Botswana.

They have been recorded to occur in the following countries:

Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Their preferred habitats are riverine forests with patchy canopies and dense evergreen thickets, shady trees and shrubs along lakes and rivers, and Acacia woodland on flood plains. They may also be found in thickets on the border of open habitats, parks, and gardens.

Juvenile White-browed Robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini)


The upper plumage of the adult is brownish-grey; the plumage below is bright orange. The crown (top of the head) is black; with white “eye-brows” that extend from the beak to the back of the head, and a black bar across the eyes.

The juvenile plumage is a duller brownish-grey, with a lighter abdomen; and soft speckling around the head.

Similar Species:

The Rueppell’s Robin Chats resemble the related White-browed Robin-Chats – however, identification can be made via their central tail feathers, which black in Rüppell’s and light brown in the White-browed. The White-browed Robin Chat also generally has a paler-colored back. Also, the Rueppel’s Robin Chat generally favors the highland areas; which the White-browed Robin Chats typically avoid.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • Cossypha heuglini heuglini (Hartlaub, 1866)
    • Central Race – with a range that extends from southern Chad, west and south to Sudan and northern and southwestern Central African Republic east to Ethiopia, south to eastern Angola, northern Botswana, Zimbabwe and northern South Africa.
  • Cossypha heuglini subrufescens (Bocage, 1869)
    • Western Race – found in Gabon south to western Angola.
  • Cossypha heuglini intermedia (Cabanis, 1868)
    • Eastern Race – occurs from Somalia south along the coast to northeastern South Africa (south to the province of KwaZulu-Natal).

White-browed Robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini)

Breeding / Nesting

They open cup nest is constructed out of plant material, such as dead leaves and twigs, and lined with rootlets, leaf midribs or very fine twigs.

The nest is usually situated in a tree cavity, in the branches of shrubs or among roots under the overhang of a riverbank.

Most breeding activities are recorded between August and January; with peak breeding occurring in November.

The average clutch consists of 2 – 3 eggs, which are incubated by the female for about 14 – 17 days. Both parents raise the chicks, which fledge (leave the nest) when they are about 13 – 17 days old; and they become independent about 4 weeks later.

Red-chested Cuckoos have been recorded to lay their eggs into the nest of the White-browed Robin Chats, for them to raise their young.

White-browed Robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini)

Diet / Feeding

White-browed Robin-Chats mostly feed on insects, such as beetles, wasps, ants, moths, caterpillars, termites, crickets, and flies; as well as spiders and centipedes.

They take their prey from the ground or glean them from foliage and tree trunks.

Alternate (Global) Names

Afrikaans: Heuglinse Janfrederik … Chinese: ????, ??? …Czech: drozdík b?lobrvý, Drozdík Heuglinuv … Danish: Drosselsanger … Dutch: Witbrauwlawaaimaker, Witbrauw-lawaaimaker … German: Weißbrauenrötel, Weissbrauen-Rötel … Finnish: Puistopunarastas, puistopunatasku … French: Cossyphe à sourcils blancs, Cossyphe de Heuglin … Italian: Cossifa cigliabianche, Tordo pettirosso di Heuglin … Japanese: mamijirotsugumihitaki, ooakaotsugumihitaki … Kwangali: Tepa … Norwegian: Hvitbryntrosteskvett … Polish: zlotokos bialobrewy, z?otokos bia?obrewy … Portuguese: Cossifa de Heuglin, Pisco-de-Heuglin … Russian: ?????????? ????????? ??????????? … Slovak: akalat stužkatý, ?ervená?ik Heuglinov … Spanish: Cosifa de Heuglin … Swedish: Vitbrynad snårtrast … Swahili: Kurumbiza wa Heuglin

Additional Web Resources

White-browed Robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini)
White-browed Robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini)
White-browed Robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini)

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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