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Chaetops aurantius (Drakensberg rock-jumper, Orange-breasted rock-jumper) 

Oranjeborsberglyster [Afrikaans]; Molisa-lipela [South Sotho]; Roodborst-rotsspringer [Dutch]; Chétopse doré [French]; Natal-felsenspringer [German]; Saxícola-de-peito-alaranjado [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: Chaetopidae

Chaetops aurantius (Drakensberg rock-jumper, Orange-breasted rock-jumper) 

Drakensberg rock-jumper female. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]

Chaetops aurantius (Drakensberg rock-jumper, Orange-breasted rock-jumper)  Chaetops aurantius (Drakensberg rock-jumper, Orange-breasted rock-jumper) 

Drakensberg rock-jumper male, Sani Pass from South Africa to Lesotho. [photo Neil Gray ©]

Drakensberg rock-jumper male, Sani Pass from South Africa to Lesotho. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to southern Africa, it is restricted to Lesotho's highlands and the nearby montane grassland regions of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State Province. Its range does not overlap with the Cape rockjumper's, but at one point the two species separated by just 100-150 km. It is quite habitat specific, favouring steep alpine grassland slopes with rocky outcrops.

Distribution of Drakensberg rockjumper 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.  


It exclusively eats insects, doing most of its foraging on the ground, scratching and probing the soil surface in search of prey. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • It is a monogamous, facultative cooperative breeder, meaning that the breeding pair are sometimes assisted by up to two helpers.
  • Both sexes construct then nest, which is a large untidy cup built of grass and twigs, lined with soft rootlets, grass and hair. It is usually placed on the ground, well concealed by tufts of grass or an overhanging rock, sometimes a small bush.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-February, peaking from October-November.
  • It lays 2-3 white eggs, which are incubated by both sexes.
  • The chicks are are fed by both sexes at regular intervals, their diet consisting mostly of caterpillars and grasshoppers.


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.