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Monticola rupestris (Cape rock-thrush)

Kaapse kliplyster [Afrikaans]; Igwagwa, Unomaweni [Xhosa]; iKhwelematsheni, isiHlalamatsheni [Zulu]; Thume (generic term for rock thrush) [South Sotho]; Kaapse rotslijster [Dutch]; Monticole rocar [French]; Klippenrötel [German]; Melro-das-rochas 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: Muscicapidae > Genus: Monticola  

Monticola rupestris (Cape rock-thrush) Monticola rupestris (Cape rock-thrush)

Cape rock-thrush male, Rooiels, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Cape rock-thrush female, Rooiels, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho, generally preferring cliffs, rocky valleys, boulder-strewn hillsides and scree slopes, especially with scattered trees, bushes and succulents (such as Aloe and Euphorbia). It also occupies villages and towns adjacent to these habitats.

Distribution of Cape rock-thrush 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 Lesser honeyguide and Red-chested cuckoo.


It mainly eats arthropods, fruit and seeds, doing most of its foraging on the ground within vegetation or between rocks. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, solitary nester, with the male vigorously defending his territory against both other males and other species. It has even been observed chasing and attacking another male which dared wander into its territory.
  • The nest is a messy platform built of twigs, grass, roots and soil, with a cup-shaped cavity set into the top. It is typically placed in a rock crevice or on the ledge of a cliff or building, sometimes reusing the same nest over multiple breeding seasons.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-February, peaking from September-December.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about 14-16 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents on a diet of arthropods, leaving the nest after about 16 days and becoming fully independent about 10 days later.


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.