Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Arnot's Chat (Myrmecocichla arnotti)


French: Traquet d’Arnot German: Arnotschmätzer Spanish: Zorzal hormiguero de Arnot
Other common names: White-headed Black-chat

Saxicola arnotti


, 1869,

Victoria Falls, north-western Zimbabwe


Sometimes placed in genus Thamnolaea or Pentholaea. Race harterti distinctive; if vocally different, may merit species status, but intermediates appear to exist in S areas where nominate approaches it. Race leucolaema recently revived (citing the name collaris, a synonym) and proposed for species rank#R; but morphological distinctiveness not so strong, and further work needed on vocalizations and ecology. Named after David Arnot#R, but species name can not be emended, as internal evidence only reinforces the misspelling by referring to "Mr Arnott". Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. harterti Neunzig, 1926 – Angola Chat – W & C Angola.
  • M. a. leucolaema G. A. Fischer & Reichenow, 1880 – Ruaha Chat – Rwanda, Burundi and E DRCongo S to W Tanzania (W of Eastern Arc Mts), N Zambia and possibly N Malawi. Has bred in SW Uganda (R Kagera#R).
  • M. a. arnotti (Tristram, 1869) – Arnot's Chat – E Angola and C & S Tanzania (E of Eastern Arc Mts) S to N & NE Botswana, N & W Mozambique and NE South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm; 35 g. Male nominate race is black with snow-white crown to nape, large white carpal patch extending to greater wing-coverts and primary coverts, tips of... read more


    Song (by both sexes, often together) a series of phrases made up of quiet, complex musical notes,... read more


    Well-developed miombo (Brachystegia) and primary mopane (Colophospermum) woodland... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, especially ants and beetles, and spiders. Larvae, green caterpillars, orthopterans, moths and a mole-cricket seen fed to large... read more


    Mainly at end of dry season and in early rainy season; Jan, Jul and Sept–Oct in E Africa; Jan and Aug–Nov (mainly Aug–Oct... read more


    Sedentary; probably some wandering.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Was formerly listed as “Near-threatened” in S Africa, but recently judged not threatened. Locally common, but inexplicably absent from some... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Arnot's Chat (Myrmecocichla arnotti). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).