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Swynnertonia swynnertoni (Swynnerton's robin)

Bandkeeljanfrederik [Afrikaans]; Swynnertons sterrepaapje [Dutch]; Rougegorge de Swynnerton [French]; Swynnertonrötel [German]; Pisco-de-peitilho [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

Swynnertonia swynnertoni (Swynnerton's robin)  

Swynnerton's robin, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Tanzania. [photo Louis Andre Hansen ©]


Distribution and habitat

Highly localised, only occurring around two mountains in Tanzania and in Zimbabwe's eastern highlands, as well as on Mt Gorongosa, Mozambique. It generally prefers the undergrowth of evergreen forest, especially when it has dragon-trees (Dracaena).

Distribution of Swynnerton's 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).


It mainly eats beetles and ants supplemented with fruit, doing most of its foraging on the ground, flicking through leaf litter in search of food, and often catching the prey fleeing from an approaching swarm of African driver ants (Anomma wilverthi). The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is an open cup built of dead leaves, tendrils, rootlets, moss and leaf midribs and lined with the dark plant fibres found at the bases of tree ferns (Cyathea) fronds. It is typically placed at the base of dragon-tree (Dracaena) leaf, or alternatively in the hollow of a tree stump, a forked stem of a shrub or on a platform formed by interlaced liana stems.
  • Egg-laying season is from October-January, peaking from November-December.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 14-15 days.
  • The chicks are brooded by the female for the first 7-9 days of their lives, all the while the male passer her food, he then feeds it to the young. The female joins the male in foraging after she has finished brooding the chicks, who leave the nest when they are about 14 days.


Rare, due its localised distribution.


  • 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.