Cossypha heuglini (White-browed robin-chat, Heuglins robin) 

Heuglinse janfrederik [Afrikaans]; Tepa [Kwangali]; Witbrauw-lawaaimaker [Dutch]; Cossyphe de Heuglin [French]; Weißbrauenrötel [German]; Cossifa de Heuglin [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora >Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Muscicapidae > Genus: Cossypha

Cossypha heuglini (White-browed robin-chat, Heuglins robin) Cossypha heuglini (White-browed robin-chat, Heuglins robin) Cossypha heuglini (White-browed robin-chat, Heuglins robin) 

White-browed robin-chat. [photo Mike Grimes ©]

White-browed robin-chat, Caprivi Strip, Namibia. [photo Stephen Davis ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Chad and Sudan through southern DRC, Tanzania, Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is common from the north-eastern corner of South Africa to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and northern Namibia and Botswana. It generally prefers riverine forest with patchy canopy and dense evergreen thickets, shady trees and shrubs along lakesides and Acacia woodland on flood plains. It may also occupy thickets on the border of an open habitat, suburban parks and gardens.

Distribution of White-browed robin-chat in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Red-chested cuckoo.


It mainly eats insects, doing most of its foraging on the ground, flicking through leaf litter in search of prey and occasionally gleaning food from foliage and tree trunks. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is an open cup, the materials of which vary depending on the habitat it is built in. It is most commonly built of dead leaves and twigs and lined with rootlets, leaf midribs or very fine twigs. It is typically placed in a hollow in a tree trunk, branches of a shrub or among roots under the overhang of a riverbank.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-January, peaking during November.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 14-17 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 13-17 days, after which point they conceal themselves in the undergrowth. They become fully capable of sustaining themselves about 4 weeks after fledging.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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