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Pogonocichla stellata (White-starred robin, Starred robin) 

Witkoljanfrederik [Afrikaans]; Sterrepaapje [Dutch]; Rougegorge étoilé [French]; Sternrötel [German]; Pisco-estrelado [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

Pogonocichla stellata (White-starred robin, Starred robin)   

White-starred robin, Queen Elizabeth Park, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. [photo Alan Manson ©]


For information about this species, see www.birdforum.net/opus/White-starred_Robin

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in patches from the extreme south of Sudan through Tanzania and eastern DRC to Malawi and southern Africa. Here it is locally fairly common in the eastern half of the region, generally preferring Afromontane evergeen forest with tangled undergrowth, although it may move into dune forest and well-wooded gardens in forest mosaics (especially in the non-breeding season).

Distribution of White-starred 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 Red-chested cuckoo.

Movements and migrations

Altitudinal migrant, as in KwaZulu-Natal juveniles and unpaired adults moves to lower Altitude around March-April, heading back during September.


It mainly eats insects (especially beetles) supplemented with small fruit, which it mainly eats around April-September. It does most of its foraging in the undergrowth and canopy, gleaning food from leaves, twigs and bark but also hawking prey aerially and taking insects from the ground. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Animals
  • Berries and seeds
    • Hedychium flavescens (Flowering ginger)
    • Ficus sycomorus (Sycomore fig)
    • Xymalos monospora (Lemonwood)
    • Ilex mitis (African holly)
    • Kiggelaria africana (Wild-peach)
    • Halleria lucida (Tree-fuchsia)
    • Cassipourea gummiflua (Large-leaved onionwood)
    • Cassipourea malosana (Onionwood)
    • Canthium inerme (Turkey-berry)
    • Rhus succedanea (alien Wax-tree)


  • The nest is built is built solely by the female in up to a week, consisting of a domed structure, with the roof of the nest often in line with the rim of the cup (such as in the photo to the left), although sometimes it builds a "porch" protruding from the front of the nest (like the photo on the right). It is usually built with dead leaves, tendrils, rootlets and moss, with the living stems of a fern or Asparagus often incorporated into the walls and roof. The interior is usually lined with large, skeletonised leaves, flowers and animal hair, such as from horses and Bushbuck (Tragephalus scriptus). It is typically placed on a slope, often at the base of a tree trunk, well concealed by vegetation; it may also build it against a bank, beneath a boulder or in a fallen tree trunk.
Pogonocichla stellata (White-starred robin, Starred robin)  Pogonocichla stellata (White-starred robin, Starred robin)   

White-starred robin at its nest with chicks, Entabeni, Soutpansberg, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

White-starred robin. [photo Peter Steyn ©]

  • Egg-laying season is mainly from October-November, although if a clutch is lost it may relay later, around December-January.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 16-18 days.
  • The chicks are brooded solely by the female for the first five days of their lives, but are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 13-16 days, remaining dependent on their parents for about 40-42 more 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. 

  • Harrison, J.A., Allan, D.G., Underhill, L.G., Herremans, M., Tree. A.J., Parker, V. & Brown, C.J. (eds). 1997. The atlas of southern African birds. Vol. 2: Passerines. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.