Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Short-tailed Akalat (Sheppardia poensis)


French: Rougegorge d’Alexander German: Kurzschwanzrötel Spanish: Akelat colicorto

Callene poensis


, 1903,

Bilelipi, Bioko


Formerly placed in Cossypha. Until recently considered conspecific with S. bocagei, but accumulating evidence#R#R indicates need for separation: differs in its smaller overall size with notably shorter tail (from published data#R allow 2); black vs brown-rufous lower eyelid (2); slightly brighter rufous underparts (1); slightly more white on mid-belly (1); markedly different songs, with those of present species in lower frequency range (in one analysis 1250–1950 vs 2700–4550 kHz; allow 3); use of less open forest at rather higher elevations (needs confirmation from all taxa involved; ns). When species placed in Cossypha, name poensis becomes preoccupied, and population of Bioko receives name insulana. It has recently been claimed that name poensis should perhaps be considered permanently invalidated#R, but this depends on interpretation of certain details in ICZN Code; in view of uncertainty, it seems preferable to stick with well-established and older name poensis#R. Five subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. p. granti (Serle, 1949) – SE Nigeria and W Cameroon (including Mt Cameroon).
  • S. p. poensis (Alexander, 1903) – Bioko.
  • S. p. schoutedeni (Prigogine, 1952) – W of L Edward S to Kivu, E DRCongo.
  • S. p. kaboboensis (Prigogine, 1955) – Mt Kabobo, in E DRCongo.
  • S. p. kungwensis (Moreau, 1941) – Mt Kungwe and Mahale Mts, in W Tanzania.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; 16·4–20·9 g. Adult nominate race has top of head to lores blackish washed olive, upperparts olive-brown becoming rufous on uppertail-coverts, and tail rusty brown;... read more


    Songs of races kungwensis (W Tanzania), kaboboensis (E DR Congo) and granti... read more


    Undergrowth of submontane and montane forest. Inhabits transitional and montane evergreen forest,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet presumably insects, but very little published information. Forages mainly from perch, dropping to catch prey on ground. Attends army-... read more


    Season Dec–Mar in Cameroon (juveniles seen May–Jul), Dec–May in E DRCongo; breeding-condition birds Nov on Bioko. Nothing else known.


    Sedentary. However, a juvenile at sea-level on Mt Cameroon and another at 400 m on Bioko may have... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Frequent to locally abundant. In W Africa, at least, commonest at lower elevations; rare on Obudu Plateau, in SE Nigeria. Common on... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Short-tailed Akalat (Sheppardia poensis). 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 6 December 2019).