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Cercotrichas leucophrys (White-browed scrub-robin) 

[= Erythropygia leucophrys

Gestreepte wipstert [Afrikaans]; Eherekete [Kwangali]; Mtsherhitani [Tsonga]; Witbrauw-waaierstaart [Dutch]; Agrobate à dos roux [French]; Weißbrauen-heckensänger [German]; Rouxinol-do-mato-estriado [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: Cercotrichas

Cercotrichas leucophrys (White-browed scrub-robin) 

White-browed scrub-robin. [photo Martin Goodey ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Gabon to Somalia south through Tanzania, southern DRC and Angola to southern Africa. Here it is common across the the eastern half of South Africa through to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and northern Namibia. It generally prefers valley bushveld and savanna woodland, especially Acacia but also broad-leaved woodland, such as miombo (Brachystegia), Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) and mixed terminalia (Terminalia) and bushwillow (Combretum) woodland.

Distribution of White-browed scrub-robin 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 Diderick cuckoo and Red-chested cuckoo.


It mainly eats invertebrates, doing most of its foraging on the ground, flicking through leaves in search of prey and digging for foraging termites. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, viciously defending its territory against other White-browed scrub-robins, sometimes grappling with each other in mid air before falling to the ground.
  • The nest (see image below) is built solely by the female in about 4-5 days, consisting of a deep, untidy open cup built mainly of dry grass, sometimes with a few twigs, dead Acacia leaves incorporated into the structure. A lining of grass roots, flowerheads and leaves is also sometimes added. It is typically placed in the center of a grass tuft at the base of a tree, on the dead leaves of an aloe or in climbing grass tussocks on fallen branches.
Cercotrichas leucophrys (White-browed scrub-robin)   

White-browed scrub-robin nest with eggs, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from September-January, peaking from September-November.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female.
  • The chicks are frequently brooded by the female during the first few days of their lives and are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 11-12 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.