Longevities of Cossypha robin-chats

Cape Robin-chat
Cape Robin-chat


There are 14 species of Cossypha robin-chats in Africa. They are medium sized thrushes and sexes are alike. They have much red in the plumage and many species have a white eyebrow. The juveniles are spotted above and mottled below, but the tail pattern is the same as that of the adults. These birds have long tarsi and are usually found on or near the ground in forest or thickets, although some species occur in gardens that are near well wooded areas. They are most active at dawn and dusk, and are accomplished songsters and often mimic the calls of other species.

White-throated Robin-Chat

The Chorister Robin-Chat has the greatest longevity at 24 years, based on a recapture of a colour ringed bird (read story here). The Cape Robin-chat has been well ringed and has a high longevity of 17 years (see Table below). The other South African robin-chats have lower ringing rates, but still high longevities at 9 years or more. The other African robin-chats have very low ringing totals with SAFRING rings, but there are probably many more ringed for the Kenyan species.

The Birds of Africa handbook (Vol 4, 1992) provides two additional longevity records from various published studies. In Malawi the Olive-flanked Robin was recorded with a longevity of over 10 years. In Kenya a Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat had a longevity of 8 years (and there is a record of 24 years of a bird in captivity).

White-browed Robin-Chat

Many more longevity records are to be expected from this well loved group of birds, as more of them are ringed!

Red-capped Robin-Chat


Table. Number of robin-chats ringed and longevity records from SAFRING database, data extracted 7/06/2019

Species Latin Ringed / retraps / recovered Longevity Ringno
Olive-flanked Robin C. anomala 31 / 2 / 0 1y 0m 10d CV48526
Chorister Robin-Chat C. dichroa 1401 / 206 / 4 24y 295904
Red-capped Robin-Chat C. natalensis 3466 / 582 / 12 11y 11m 27d BD20060
White-browed Robin-Chat C. heuglini 1271 / 255 / 10 11y 9m 0d A109741
Cape Robin-chat C. caffra 19370 / 4538 / 197 17y 5m 12d F68667
White-throated Robin-Chat C. humeralis 1179 / 189 / 4 9y 8m 18d AA37869
Grey-winged Robin-Chat C. polioptera 40 / 3 / 0 3y 6m 15d FA12016
Mountain Robin-Chat C. isabellae 114 / 21 / 1 6y 4m 29d BH91815
White-crowned Robin-Chat C. albicapilla 6 / 1 / 0 0y 0m 8d 4A52476
Archer’s Robin-Chat C. archeri 3 / 0 / 0
Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat C. cyanocampter 3 / 0 / 0
Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat C. niveicapilla 116 / 28 / 0 7y 6m 12d 4A48948
Rueppell’s Robin-Chat C. semirufa 0 / 0 / 0
White-headed Robin-Chat C. heinrichi 0 / 0 / 0
Chorister Robin-Chat



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Dieter is a qualified Bird Ringer and trainer, registered bird guide, and Weaver expert. Dieter is able to act as a bird guide for day trips in Cape Town, and is able to customise birds tours in South Africa and beyond.