Monticola explorator (Sentinel rock-thrush) 

Langtoonkliplyster [Afrikaans]; Umganto [Xhosa]; Thume (generic term for rock thrush) [South Sotho]; Langteen-rotslijster [Dutch]; Monticole espion [French]; Langzehenrötel [German]; Melro-das-rochas-sentinela [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: Monticola  

Monticola explorator (Sentinel rock-thrush)  Monticola explorator (Sentinel rock-thrush) 

Sentinel rock-thrush male. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]

Sentinel rock-thrush male, Rooiels, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Monticola explorator (Sentinel rock-thrush)   

Sentinel rock-thrush juvenile, top of Sani Pass, Drakensberg, South Africa-Lesotho border. [photo Alan Manson ©]


For information about this species, see

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho, generally preferring alpine grassland and heathlands on hills, felled plantations with exposed rocks, open, boulder-strewn rangeland with grass. It also occurs in mountain fynbos near sea level in the Western Cape, and around villages and towns at high altitudes.

Distribution of Sentinel rock-thrush 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.  

Movements and migrations

Mainly resident, although it may move to lower altitudes in winter.


It eats arthropods supplemented with grass and seeds, doing most of its foraging on the ground, searching for food amongst grass tufts and rocks. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is built solely by the female, and is a platform of grass twigs and roots with a cup-shaped cavity set into the middle which is lined with finer material. It is typically placed in a rock crevice, on a ledge, under a rock or occasionally against a grass tuft on a grassy slope.
  • Egg-laying season is from about September-January.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 13-15 days.
  • The chicks are mainly fed by the female, leaving the nest after about 16-18 days.


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. 



 Contact us if you can contribute information or images to improve this page.

Birds home   Biodiversity Explorer home   Iziko home   Search