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Sheppardia gunningi (East coast akalat, Gunnings robin) 

Gunningse janfrederik [Afrikaans]; Blauwvleugel-akalat [Dutch]; Rougegorge de Gunning [French]; Blauflügel-akalat [German]; Pisco-arisco [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

Sheppardia gunningi (East coast akalat, Gunnings robin)   

East coast akalat. [photo Hugh Chittenden ©]


For information about this species, see birdinfo.co.za.

Distribution and habitat

It has localised populations from Kenya and Tanzania south to Malawi and south-central Mozambique, which is within southern Africa's border. Here it is locally fairly common in the undergrowth of evergreen forest, especially with dense, moist thickets containing lianas, shrubs and saplings beneath gap in the canopy left by a fallen tree.

Distribution of East coast akalat 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 beetles, moths and ants, doing most of its foraging from low perches, pouncing on prey on the ground. It may also follow swarms of army ants, snatching they insects that flee from the leaf litter. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is a partially domed structure built of rootlets and typically placed in leaf litter, between the roots of a broken stump.
  • It has been recorded to lay 2-3 eggs in October, which are probably incubated solely by the female.
  • The chicks are intermittently brooded and fed by both parents.


Vulnerable, as due to its localised distribution it is threatened by habitat disturbance and destruction, largely because of deforestation.


  • 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.