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Chaetops frenatus (Cape rock-jumper)

Kaapse berglyster [Afrikaans]; Kaapse rotsspringer [Dutch]; Chétopse bridé [French]; Kap-Felsenspringer [German]; Saxícola-do-Cabo [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 frenatus (Cape rock-jumper) Chaetops frenatus (Cape rock-jumper)

Cape rock-jumper male, Boland trail, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©]

Cape rock-jumper male, Boland trail, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©]
Chaetops frenatus (Cape rock-jumper) Chaetops frenatus (Cape rock-jumper)
Cape rock-jumper male. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Cape rock-jumper female. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, occurring from Uitenhage, Eastern Cape to Cape Hanklip (absent from the Cape peninsula), north to the Cedarberg mountains and Piketberg. It generally prefers rocky mountain fynbos especially on high, windswept slopes and ridges, but it has occasionally been reported at sea level in the Western Cape.

Distribution of Cape 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 mainly eats arthropods, supplemented with reptiles and rarely amphibians. Most foraging is done on the ground, pecking and scratching the sand at the base of rocks or bushes in search of prey.


  • It is a monogamous, facultative cooperative breeder, meaning that the breeding pair are occasionally assisted by up to three helpers, who are either non-breeding adults or offspring from the previous breeding season. If its territory is intruded upon it takes an upright stance on top of a rock, often cocking and fanning its tail while calling.
  • Egg-laying season is from late July-January, peaking around September-October.
  • It lays 2 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 19-21 days. Helpers have not been observed during this period, but they probably assist the breeding pair with incubation.
  • The chicks are fed a variety of prey items by their parents and sometimes helpers. They leave the nest at about 18-21 days, but it takes approximately 5 more days for them two learn to fly and feed for themselves. They remain in the parents territory for at least 3 weeks before becoming fully independent.


Not threatened, although encroaching alien vegetation on its primary habitat is cause for concern.


  • 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.