Family Crombecs and allies (Macrosphenidae)

Least Concern

Red-faced Crombec (Sylvietta whytii)


French: Crombec à face rousse German: Rotzügelsylvietta Spanish: Crombec carirrojo

Sylviella whytii


, 1894,

Zomba, south Malawi


Proposed race nemorivaga (NW Zimbabwe) usually considered indistinguishable from nominate. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. w. loringi Mearns, 1911 – SW Ethiopia (Addis Ababa S to Yabelo and L Abiata), SE South Sudan, NE Uganda (Karamoja) and NW Kenya (S Turkana S to Kapenguria).
  • S. w. jacksoni Sharpe, 1897 – Uganda (except NE), SW & C Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, N & C Tanzania (E to Kilimanjaro and Iringa).
  • S. w. minima Ogilvie-Grant, 1900 – SE Kenya and NE Tanzania (extending inland to Tsavo, Taveta and Morogoro).
  • S. w. whytii Shelley, 1894 – SE Tanzania, Malawi, N & C Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
  • Descriptive notes

    9 cm; 8–12·5 g. A grey-backed crombec with plain tawny face. Nominate race has top of head and upperparts light grey, face and underparts tawny-buff, paler on belly and... read more


    Song a thin “wee see-see, wee see-see” or “esee-sisi-seee, see-sisi-seee”, notes all on same pitch... read more


    Woodland, bushland and forest edge; semi-arid thorn-scrub and acacia (Acacia) in E Africa... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including caterpillars; also spiders (Araneae), small worms. Forages mainly in trees or tall bushes, usually in pairs, commonly... read more


    Breeds just before or in early part of rains in E Africa; Aug–Dec in S. Monogamous; territorial. Nest a thick-walled oval pouch with... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally fairly common; generally common and widespread in E Africa. Density 3 pairs/100 ha in brachystegia woodland in Zimbabwe. Adversely affected... read more

    Recommended citation

    Pearson, D. (2019). Red-faced Crombec (Sylvietta whytii). 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 22 February 2019).