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Cercotrichas paena (Kalahari scrub-robin) 

[= Erythropygia paena

Kalahariwipstert [Afrikaans]; Phênê [Tswana]; Kalahari-waaierstaart [Dutch]; Agrobate du Kalahari [French]; Kalahariheckensänger [German]; Rouxinol-do-mato do Kalahari [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 paena (Kalahari scrub-robin)  Cercotrichas paena (Kalahari scrub-robin) 

Kalahari scrub-robin, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from South-West Angola through Namibia to Botswana, north-central South Africa and Zimbabwe. It generally prefers arid and semi-arid habitats with scattered trees, bushes and patches of bare ground, such as sandveld, scrub and wooded savanna; it is also a regular in the gardens and yards of farm homesteads.

Distribution of Kalahari 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.


It mainly eats insects, especially ants, beetles and termites, doing most of its of its foraging on bare ground. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is a compact cup set into a messy structure of dry grass, leaves and occasionally twigs, the interior lined with finer material such as tendrils, rootlets and animal hair. It is typically placed close to, but not on the ground in a shrub, or occasionally in a man-made objects such as a tin.
  • In moister regions egg-laying season is from July-January, peaking during October, but in more arid areas it can breed at any time of year in response to rainfall.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for 13 days.
  • In one observation the chicks stayed in the nest for about 14 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.