Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Brown-backed Scrub-robin (Cercotrichas hartlaubi)


French: Agrobate à dos brun German: Hartlaubheckensänger Spanish: Alzacola de Hartlaub

Erythropygia hartlaubi


, 1891,

Mutsora, near Rwenzori, DRCongo


Cameroon birds somewhat smaller. Monotypic.


SE Nigeria (Gashaka-Gumti National Park) and C & S Cameroon; NE DRCongo E to C Kenya and S to Burundi and NW Tanzania; and small isolated population in NW Angola (S Uíge, Cuanza Norte).

Descriptive notes

15 cm; 17–20 g. Relatively small scrub-robin; moves tail constantly. Has crown to upperparts dark brown, greyer on mantle and scapulars, dark grey-brown wings with... read more


Song, commonly from exposed perch (sometimes in flight), often by both pair-members in duet, a loud... read more


High-grass savanna, tall shrubbery, bush-clad slopes, outer fringes of forest ecotones, riparian... read more

Food and feeding

Invertebrates, mainly insects, including beetles and their larvae, moths, flies, grasshoppers and lanternflies (Fulgoridae); also small... read more


Breeding-condition bird Nov in Angola; Mar–May, possibly Jul, in DRCongo, and Apr and Oct in Rwanda; in E Africa in long rains (when... read more


Sedentary, so far as known.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Relatively uncommon and local, despite apparently broad spectrum of habitats.

Recommended citation

Collar, N. (2020). Brown-backed Scrub-robin (Cercotrichas hartlaubi). 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).