Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin (Cercotrichas galactotes)


French: Agrobate roux German: Heckensänger Spanish: Alzacola rojizo
Other common names: Rufous Scrub-robin, Rufous Bush-robin

Sylvia galactotes


, 1820,

Algeciras, southern Spain


Paler and greyer birds from Transcaspia described as race deserticola; subsumed into familiaris, but possibly merits recognition. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. g. galactotes (Temminck, 1820) – Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin – S & SE Iberian Peninsula#R, N Africa (S to S Algeria), Israel, SW Syria and N & W Jordan; non-breeding Sahel zone of W Africa (E to S Niger) and along upper R Nile and Red Sea coast.
  • C. g. syriaca (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833) – Balkans E to W & S Turkey, W & C Syria and Lebanon; non-breeding NE Africa, mainly between Eritrea and Somalia.
  • C. g. familiaris (Ménétries, 1832) – Transcaucasia, SE Turkey, Iraq and NE & E Arabia E to S Kazakhstan, E Iran, E Afghanistan and W Pakistan; non-breeding NE & E Africa.
  • C. g. minor (Cabanis, 1851) – African Scrub-robin#Rlocally from S Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia E to Eritrea, N Ethiopia and extreme NW Somalia.
  • C. g. hamertoni (Ogilvie-Grant, 1906) – Somalia (except extreme NW) and SE Ethiopia.
  • Descriptive notes

    15 cm; 20–28 g. Nominate race is sandy-rufous from crown backwards, intensifying to foxy-rufous on tail, latter tipped black and white (prominent during frequent tail... read more


    Song, by male only, a sustained sweet but repetitive unmusical warbling, a variable fluty... read more


    In Europe mainly artifical habitats such as olive and almond groves, vineyards, citrus and young... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, mainly insects, including beetles, bugs, ants, bees, wasps, flies (including robberflies), dragonflies, grasshoppers,... read more


    Mid-May to Jun in S Europe and Kazakhstan and May–Aug in Armenia; Apr–Aug in Israel; mainly May–Jun in Pakistan; Apr... read more


    African races minor and hamertoni sedentary. Others migratory, wintering in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Estimated European population 16,333–31,599 pairs in mid-1990s, great majority in Spain, and with additional Turkish in range 5000–50,000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2019). Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin (Cercotrichas galactotes). 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 7 December 2019).