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Myrmecocichla arnoti (Arnot's chat) 

[= Thamnolaea arnoti

Bontpiek [Afrikaans]; Mandlakeni [Tsonga]; Traquet d'Arnott [French]; Arnotschmätzer [German]; Chasco de Arnot [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: Myrmecocichla

Myrmecocichla arnoti (Arnot's chat)   

Arnot's chat, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Tanzania and the DRC through Angola, Zambia and Malawi to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in northern Namibia and Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Limpopo Province, preferring well developed miombo (Brachystegia), Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) and Zambezi teak (Baikiaea plurijuga) woodland.

Distribution of Arnot's chat 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 insects, doing most of its foraging from a low perch, pouncing on prey on the ground or gleaning them from the gnarled roots of trees. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • It is probably a facultative cooperative breeder, as three immature individuals were once observed helping the breeding pair.
  • The nest is a shallow cup set into a foundation of coarse plant material and lined with grass, leaf petioles and feathers. It is typically placed in a natural cavity in a tree, about 2-4 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-December, peaking from October-November.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 13-14 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both adults and up to 3 immature helpers, leaving the nest after about 21-22 days, after which they remain dependent on their parents for up to 4 months more.


Near-threatened globally, mainly due to habitat destruction such as the fragmentation of Miombo (Brachystegia) woodland in Zimbabwe.


  • 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.