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White Crowned Robin-chat

Bird with orange breast feathers and a white crown of feathers on its black head

Scientific Name: Cossypha albicapilla

Conservation Status:

Least Concern IUCN Red List


Most of us are familiar with robins, but what is a robin-chat? Robin-chats are small birds from West Africa that play an important role in controlling insect populations. The 14 species of robin-chat are members of Family Muscicapidae (Old World flycatchers) and are known for their beautiful songs. The white-crowned robin-chat was originally a woodland-dwelling species, but this bird has adapted to human habitats and is now frequently found in towns and city parks.

Superficially they do look a bit like American robins with an orange belly, black body, and black wings, but this bird has a conspicuous white crown. Robin-chats were previously known as robins in southern Africa, but the species are not closely related. The name “robin” comes from the colonial era when the British named almost all red- or orange-breasted birds after the European robin.

These robin-chats appear to be monogamous and territorial during the breeding season. Both parents construct the nest. The female lays two somewhat glossy gray-green eggs with violet spots in a cup-shaped stick nest and incubates them for about two weeks. Both parents care for the hatchlings, who grow their flight feathers and fledge in about 14 days.

Despite the fact that white-crowned robin-chats are common and widespread, they have not been studied closely, and not much information about them has been published.

Bird with orange breast feathers and a white crown of feathers on its black head


These birds live in woodlands, gallery forests, shrublands, and savannas of West Africa from the Senegal east to Ethiopia, and from Mali south to Nigeria.


These birds feed primarily on insects, including ants and termites, that they seek out by scratching at leaf litter on the ground. Additionally, they eat some fruit.

Physical Characteristics

Males and females look alike. Body length is between nine and 11 inches, and weight is about two ounces. Lifespan is up to 10 years.


You’ll find this bird in the Aviary. See Zoo Map.

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