Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Brown Scrub-robin (Tychaedon signata)


French: Agrobate brun German: Natalheckensänger Spanish: Alzacola pardo

Cossypha signata


, 1850,

Umhlanga, Natal, South Africa


Race tongensis differs from nominate by its bold vs very indistinct white submoustachial line, with broader white supercilium (2); paler overall plumage (1); notably shorter bill (no quantifiable data) and shorter wings (effect size for males from published data#R –2.65; score 2); however, no vocal differences detected in small sample of recordings#R (more material needed) and use of word “adjoining” to describe range suggests parapatry, but an estuary and swamp are interposed#R. One record of apparent hybridization between this race and T. quadrivirgata. Proposed races oatleyi (known only from type locality, in NE Northern Province) and reclusa (described from E Cape Province) synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. s. signata (Sundevall, 1850) – Brown Scrub-robin – E South Africa (E Limpopo S to Eastern Cape).
  • T. s. tongensis Roberts, 1931 – Maputaland Scrub-Robin – S Mozambique and coastal N KwaZulu-Natal (S to St Lucia Estuary).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–19 cm; 32–42 g. Nominate race is dark olive-brown above, rump paler, blackish wings with white marks from carpal to primary bases, tail dark olive-brown... read more


    Song a high, deliberate, varied series of short phrases involving sweet melodious pure whistles... read more


    Various evergreen forest types: tall mist-belt forest, relatively dry valley bushveld Euphorbia... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates and seeds/fruit. Of 21 stomachs and six faecal samples, 63% held ants, 59% beetles, 48% millipedes, 30% orthopterans, 30%... read more


    Oct–Dec, with most clutches Nov. Nest a deep open cup of dead leaves, bark fibre, rootlets and/or moss, lined with fine rootlets and... read more


    Sedentary; mated pair remains in small area of forest throughout year. Possible vagrants recorded... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Restricted-range species: present in South African Forests EBA. In South Africa, common in forests of Eastern Cape at least as far S & W as... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Brown Scrub-robin (Tychaedon signata). 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 23 January 2020).